Downing hails 'top-class' Reina
Published 04/03/2013 | 09:16
Liverpool winger Stewart Downing believes goalkeeper Jose Reina is returning to top form again after the Spain international played a crucial role in the 4-0 win at Wigan.
The match was not as easy for the Reds as the scoreline suggests with Reina pulling off brilliant saves from Emmerson Boyce and Franco Di Santo at 2-0 and 3-0 in the first half. The Spaniard has been criticised for errors this season but Downing feels the goalkeeper is back to his best.
"It's hard for keepers. As players, we make many mistakes in games, but they get overshadowed by other things," he said.
"A keeper makes a mistake and it's in the back of the net. It is a tough position to play. But you see his save at 2-0 and if we had gone in 2-1 at half-time that would have made it more difficult. People don't tend to see that, but we as players could see it was an important save.
"It gave us the platform to go on and get the third goal and it was easy from then on.
"He's a top-class goalkeeper. Everyone has dips in form and things like that. It's about the way you bounce back and he certainly has."
Downing was also impressed with the contribution of Philippe Coutinho, the £8.5million January signing from Inter Milan making only his third appearance for the club. The 20-year-old provided assists for the first two goals, crossing for Downing and then sliding the pass through for the first of Luis Suarez's hat-trick in an encouraging 70-minute display.
"He's had two good games (his other match was a 12-minute debut as a substitute)," added Downing.
"He will find it hard physically because this is different from the two leagues he's played in.
"I think he's settled in well and he's had two really good performances. If he can keep playing like that - and with Luis banging in the goals - then we've got a really good chance."