| 5.7°C Dublin

Boss has pride in 'Pool

LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers says his side proved they deserve a place among the Premier League top four despite their 2-1 loss at Manchester City yesterday.

City were forced to come from behind to preserve their perfect home record and could also be thankful for a controversial disallowed Liverpool goal in the first half.

That decision angered Rodgers, but his overwhelming emotion was one of pride.

"I was very proud of the players, I thought they were absolutely outstanding," he said.

"They really took the game to a team that is a top, top side full of top European players.

"I think people will go away and look at us as a team that's hopefully going to be up there challenging," he added.

"Our main objective is to set up camp in the top four. That's what this club has been striving for, for a number of years.

"But we've shown consistently over this year that we're hopefully going to be in with a right good chance of doing that.

"I think performances like tonight show that we have the quality to do that. We didn't get the points, but we'll recover well now and get on to the next game."

The defeat leaves Liverpool, who could have gone top with a victory, in fourth place in the league behind their next opponents Chelsea, who they play at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

While it has been their attacking prowess that has attracted the headlines this season, Rodgers said Liverpool needed to improve their game management after conceding Alvaro Negredo's winner just before half-time.

"Our enthusiasm and attitude is to score goals, but when you've got three or four minutes until half-time, it's important you manage the game and we didn't quite do that at that period," he added.

"But I thought we were excellent in our attitude. Some of the quality of our movement and passing was exceptional and for me, it was great to see because it's what we try to work on out on the training field.

"We've lost the game, but we take a great deal of encouragement from it."

City manager Manuel Pellegrini also paid tribute to Liverpool, saying he felt his side had beaten the best team in the Premier League.

City captain Vincent Kompany and Alvaro Negredo both netted before the interval after Philippe Coutinho had given the visitors a 24th-minute lead.

Pellegrini said: "It was very important because Liverpool were the best team of the Premier League.

"They were top of the table before the match so if they won, they would be four points ahead of our team.

"I am very happy with the response because it is not easy when you face such a difficult team, especially on the counter-attack when you are losing 1-0.

"It is very easy to leave space for them. I think we defended very well."

In-form Liverpool talisman Luis Suarez was a constant thorn in the City side, but Pellegrini felt his men did well to frustrate the 19-goal striker.

The Chilean said: "They did very well, especially against Suarez.

"He is a great striker. He is in his best moment, so it was very difficult for our team not to lose one second in the whole match."

City had some moments of alarm, not least when Raheem Sterling put the ball in the net only to be incorrectly and controversially ruled offside.



Sterling later put a good chance over, Suarez was denied a late penalty and Joe Hart saved well from Coutinho and Jordan Henderson.

Pellegrini was particularly pleased with Hart's contribution having recently restored the England international to the side.

"I am very pleased with Joe – not only now, but I think in all the games he played in the last month he did very well," the City boss said.

City, who are back in action against Crystal Palace tomorrow, are now closer to fulfilling Pellegrini's aim of reaching top spot by new year.

He said: "At least we are near. We will see what happens, but this is just half of the Premier League (gone).

"We have all the second half and that will be very close – five or six teams (competing) for the title."

City defender Matija Nastasic could be back in contention for the visit of Palace after eight games out with a calf injury

Top scorer Sergio Aguero (calf) and right-back Micah Richards (hamstring) remain on the sidelines while striker Stevan Jovetic is now out with a hamstring problem.