Rodgers all praise for Benteke

DANGER MAN: Liverpool's Benteke connecting with a cross into the box to score the only goal of the match against Bournemouth on Monday.


    Aug 19, 2015

    Rodgers all praise for Benteke


    LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers has backed new signing Christian Benteke to transform his side's play, after the former Aston Villa striker's goal secured a 1-0 victory in the English Premier League over promoted Bournemouth.

    Benteke struck in the 26th minute at Anfield on Monday, prodding home a cross from Jordan Henderson in front of the Kop, and the goal stood despite Philippe Coutinho appearing to have been offside.

    Liverpool have adopted a more direct approach now that Benteke is on the team, and Rodgers is hopeful that the £32.5 million (S$72 million) Belgium international's muscularity and awareness will help solve the chronic goal-scoring problems that plagued his team last season.

    "He was a real handful tonight (Monday)," said Rodgers. "I think you've seen all the facets of his game. His hold-up play is outstanding and he's got a wonderful touch for a big guy.

    "He can help the ball on into areas, he can take the ball in, control the game, switch the game. His touch is good. You see him linking and combining.

    "There was one moment when the ball came into the box, which was one of the reasons we looked to bring him in.

    "Because of his strength and power, he tried to make contact with it, and we had a chance with Coutinho to then shoot. In my time here, that's never really happened.

    "The ball's come in and maybe been cleared out, but because of his physicality and his contact, he keeps the ball alive in a dangerous area of the field.

    "And that will really help. Once the players get used to seeing that and working with that, that will offer us more opportunities to score goals. So it gives us a different dimension to our game."

    The victory built on Liverpool's 1-0 win at Stoke City and left them level on points with Manchester City, Leicester City and Manchester United at the top of the early season standings.

    But it came at the cost of an injury to new captain Henderson, who departed early in the second half with a foot problem.

    As well as Benteke's goal, Bournemouth were aggrieved that captain Tommy Elphick had seen an early header ruled out for a foul after he was adjudged to have clambered over Dejan Lovren.

    At the post-match press conference, Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe was asked for his thoughts on the goal and shot back: "Which one?"

    He added: "It's hugely frustrating really, especially after the goal being disallowed, so that's basically a two-goal swing against us."

    He was particularly disappointed that Benteke's goal had been allowed to stand despite Coutinho's attempt to make contact with Henderson's in-swinging cross from the left.

    New guidelines by rule-making body International Football Association Board explicitly state that in such instances, the player who attempts to play the ball should be flagged offside.

    "The problem for us as managers was that we felt it (the offside rule) was a little bit grey," Howe said.

    "We were assured that it wouldn't be and that the rule would be adhered to correctly. The problem tonight is that if that's not offside, that's the clearest example that you'll see of the new rule.

    "It's a yard and a bit offside and he (Coutinho) has clearly impacted on the goalkeeper. I don't think it's a tough one."