Coutinho saves the best for last

DECISIVE GOAL: Liverpool playmaker Coutinho making his shot count, as he scored the only goal of the match against Stoke on Sunday.


    Aug 11, 2015

    Coutinho saves the best for last


    LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers believes the determination shown by his players in the 1-0 victory over Stoke City on Sunday will serve them well for the rest of the season.

    The Reds were thrashed 6-1 at the Britannia Stadium on the final game of the previous Premier League campaign, but on the same ground in their opening fixture of this season - just 77 days later - battled to a narrow victory.

    It was secured courtesy of a superb long-range strike from playmaker Philippe Coutinho late in the game, on the back of a disciplined defensive display from the visitors.

    "It is always difficult when you come to Stoke. To get a win where we were 11 weeks ago, I thought it was an outstanding collective performance," Rodgers said. "Defensively we were strong and then we know we have the quality to win a game.

    "It was a one-off game when we lost 6-1, a unique game. I knew it was a one-off, but it still happened. You have to be better and more resolute and that was what we were working on in pre-season, making sure our defensive organisation was better.

    "For me, it is about performing well and showing character. It was about ensuring the personality came out. Eleven weeks ago, it was embarrassing but I think that (this) puts it to bed. You saw a team with the determination and will, which bodes well for the future."

    Rodgers also hailed the quality of the decisive goal from Brazil international Coutinho which arrived four minutes from time.

    "It was a great turn and he got away from the Stoke midfield and produced a wonderful shot," he said. "I think he is already one of the stars of the Premier League and he has showed that with his quality."

    The Liverpool manager was also satisfied with the performances of his debutants, and the resolve they showed.

    "The players we have brought in have that character," Rodgers said. "Christian Benteke up front - you saw his quality, movement, strength, power and that ability in the air. He was outstanding.

    "Joe Gomez: 18 years of age, playing against a really good player in Jonathan Walters and, as the game went on, he got stronger.

    "Nathaniel Clyne has been outstanding since he came in and James Milner has that experience."

    Stoke manager Mark Hughes felt Liverpool were fortunate to have 11 men on the pitch after Reds centre-back Dejan Lovren caught Potters forward Mame Diouf with an elbow in the first half.

    Hughes said: "If it merited a yellow, the referee thinks something untoward has gone on and he has thrown an elbow. I had some sort of explanation from fourth official Jon Moss and I had a quizzical look on my face.

    "The referee thought it was a yellow card for an elbow. If that is the case, he was fortunate not to get a red.

    "But we're not disappointed with our performance. Sometimes when you are up against the top teams, a moment of brilliance, like the one from Coutinho, takes the game away from you."