Downing downs Anzhi Makhachkala as Liverpool top Group A with 1-0 victory
Brendan Rodgers extolled his men as “terrific” and “outstanding” after Liverpool defeated the mega-rich Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala 1-0 at Anfield on Thursday night. With this victory Liverpool to the top spot in Group A of the Europa League.
Liverpool are scheduled to play against Merseyside rivals Everton this weekend, still Brendan Rodgers opted to play a strong line-up against Anzhi Makhachkala. Liverpool’s lineup included Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Martin Skrtel, Nuri Sahin and Jonjo Shelvey.
“Great credit to the players, to be fair I haven't even been thinking about the derby game, for us it's really just about one game at a time at the moment and Anzhi are a very good side with some outstanding players,” Brendan Rodgers told ITV4 after the game.
“Tonight was an excellent performance. I thought the players were terrific, they took control of the game, and then when they had to dig deep towards the end they put their bodies on the line and got their blocks in and they were outstanding.”
Liverpool’s defense is finally up and running. Liverpool hasn’t conceded a goal since their 3-2 home defeat to Udinese at the start of the month. In spite of their poor finish in the Premier League last season, Liverpool’s defense was rated third best in the league.
“It's three clean sheets in a row which is important for us and we're now adding that bit of steel and concentration to some of the footballing elements that we're working on,” Brendan Rodgers said. “It was a good win and we can now recover and look forward to the weekend.”
Stewart Downing scored the winner for Liverpool in the 53rd minute when he launched an unstoppable effort from outside the box on the left wing. Brendan Rodgers acknowledged Stewart Downing’s recent struggle to find form, but he praised him for his impressive performance as well.
“It was brilliant goal. He's had a rough ride here really, it's been difficult time for him, but he got a great round of applause from the Kop and if you can get that from the Kop then it'll give you a massive lift going forward,” Brendan Rodgers said. “He's a good guy, he's working very hard and he's a very important member of our team.”
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was happy with the performance of his team and looked forward to playing against Everton on the weekend.
“We're very pleased with the three points. The objective before the game was to get the win, it didn't matter how we did it,” Steven Gerrard said. “But we played some decent stuff along the way today so we're very pleased, and what a goal to win it.”