SKIPPER Simon Francis felt Cherries had paid a heavy price for being too passive at times during their defeat by Liverpool.

Francis and his team-mates were forced to defend resolutely after the Reds had raced into an early lead thanks to Sadio Mane’s seventh-minute opener.

Although the Cherries goal led a charmed life in the first half, they managed to reach the break trailing only to Mane’s early effort.

However, despite an improved second-half showing, Cherries were beaten by Mohamed Salah’s sublime header and a late strike from Robert Firmino.

Francis told the Daily Echo: “We faced a top team, probably the most in-form team in the division, even ahead of Manchester City, I would say. I think we saw that over the two legs in the Champions League.

“Liverpool are probably unfortunate not to be in with a shout of winning the title but I am sure they will be up there next season because, for me, they are among the best we have played.

“We found ourselves a goal down early in the game and that always leaves you with a mountain to climb, especially when you come to a place like Anfield.

“It was not the start we had wanted but I thought we had some good spells, especially in the second half when we were 2-0 down.

“But we had to take risks which left us open to the counter-attack and they are definitely one of the best at counter-attacking with their front three.

“We rode our luck at times and it just wasn’t to be. But we came up against a top team and maybe there were things we can learn.”

Francis added: “At times, we were passive. We had a game plan and it was to block at times and sit off their centre-halves.

“But when the triggers were there to press, we probably didn’t go aggressively enough and those were the times when we were passive and they put too many balls into our box.

“Whether it was the full-backs, the midfielders receiving the ball deep or even the centre-halves stepping in and having too much time on the ball, we were a little too passive at times.

“After the game, the manager said they were a team we needed to look up to. If we are going to stay in the Premier League and be successful, we want to try to play to a similar style with a high-energy passing game.

“There is no shame in losing games, it is the manner in which you lose and we can take some positives from it. We played well at times.

“We have been on a good run over the past couple of months but clean sheets have been massive for us over the course of our Premier League tenure and again we couldn’t keep one.

“We haven’t for a while so that is something we need to look at going into the remaining games. It would be great to keep two or three more, get more points on the board and try to finish as high as we can.”