David Moyes admitted his West Ham United team had simply been beaten by the better side in Saturday’s 4-1 Premier League defeat at Liverpool.
Goals from Emre Can, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane condemned the Hammers to just their second top-flight loss of the calendar year and third in 13 matches overall, with only Adrian’s heroics preventing a heavier defeat.
The Hammers had chances of their own at Anfield, too, with Marko Arnautovic hitting the underside of the bar with the game still goalless and Michail Antonio netting a second-half goal just moments after arriving as a substitute.
We gave the ball away, got caught on the ball and when you do that, Liverpool will punish you
“It was a tough day, but we played a good team in form, but we've done quite well against the top teams since I've been at the Club and I thought for periods today we also did quite well," said the manager. "Especially in the first half, we created some chances and I thought we played with bits of composure, albeit Liverpool were creating opportunities and with the players they have got at their disposal, they're always going to do that.
"Our goal gave us a chance of getting back in the game. We always thought we had a chance of scoring, but the thing was to keep their front players quiet. We did a good job of that at times, but most of our goals we conceded were self-inflicted, which hasn't been the case for us this season, or certainly in the last six weeks, when we've been really organised and not made individual mistakes.
"We gave the ball away, got caught on the ball and when you do that, Liverpool will punish you."
It was not all doom and gloom, though, as West Ham created chances themselves, with Arnautovic and Pablo Zabaleta going close with the game still poised at 0-0 before Can's 29th-minute opener.
"With a little bit more courage in the first half, I thought we could have gone in front if we could have taken the opportunities, or could have taken control of the ball a bit longer and kept possession. There were good things about it, but ultimately we're playing against a team in really good form at the moment."
With the standings so congested in the bottom half, Moyes dismissed any notion of this being a 'bonus' game and it being more important for his West Ham team to beat the sides around them in the Premier League table.
"You're still looking to take points en route. We had a really good win against Chelsea earlier this season and we picked up a point against Arsenal, so we'll have to do that, but the other teams will be saying just the same.
"Every game is going to change the dynamics of the table. We're in a relatively good league position, but not in a relatively good position points-wise, because everybody is so closely bunched.
"It was important that we didn't lose by an even heavier margin, because goal difference could be important come the end of the season."
Despite seeing their team beaten, West Ham’s 3,000-strong travelling support made themselves heard throughout the 90 minutes, by both cheering for their team and singing the name of the late Bobby Moore in the sixth minute of each half on the 25th anniversary of the late captain’s death.
The Claret and Blue Army will hope for a more positive result when they head to Swansea City next Saturday.