Sport Soccer

Sunday 18 February 2018

Rodgers in awe of 'unplayable' Suarez after brace keeps Liverpool in title hunt

Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates as he scores their second goal against Stoke City
Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates as he scores their second goal against Stoke City

Kevin Garside

Luis Suarez is unstoppable and with him in the team, anything is possible. Yes, you could say Brendan Rodgers was happy.

After scoring five at a stadium that Liverpool had never conquered in the Premier League, the restating of Suarez's qualities in hyperbolic terms was perhaps understandable.

Liverpool rode their luck to reclaim fourth spot but also underlined the scale of the threat they represent with Suarez rampant and his partnership with Daniel Sturridge restored.

Two more goals took the Uruguayan's total to 22 in 16 games. Ridiculous. Sturridge, playing his first game since November, made an immediate impact, setting up a second for Suarez and adding one of his own.

"Luis is unplayable," Rodgers said. "He can occupy a back four on his own with his movement and cleverness. The finish for the second with not a lot of goal to aim at was sensational. He is an outstanding talent. Both are outstanding players."

Fate and fortune were against Stoke. Even Rodgers admitted the penalty that allowed Liverpool to restore their lead at 3-2 was soft, though he absolved Raheem Sterling from any malpractice.

"It was a Spanish penalty," he said. "You see a lot of them on the continent. The defender makes contact with the man. It's slight, but knocks him over. Raheem is a fearsome competitor. He is not the type to go to ground. He has had some decisions go against him. I don't think he has gone down easily. We just had good fortune."

Mark Hughes went a little further in his assessment. "Soft, easy, any adjective you like," said the Stoke manager. "Whether that penalty would have been given at the other end I'm not too sure.

"We came back from 2-0 down, we were in the ascendency and the game is taken away from us. The key moments went against us."

The result leaves Rodgers optimistic about what the second half of the season holds.

"This is a brilliant win. With the teams around us winning we knew we had to put in a performance," he said. "We came here with 18 games to go; nine at home, nine away. Seven of the nine away are at teams in the bottom half.

"They are not gimmes by any means but we have shown enough to show that we will be challenging. That's all we ever wanted. We just needed to be in the conversation." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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