Brendan Rogers knew Liverpool wouldn’t have it easy against Southampton, and he’s pleased with how the Reds — new and old — faced up to adversity.
Liverpool defeated Southampton 2-1 on Sunday at Anfield. Daniel Sturridge scored the game-winning goal in the 79th mintue, giving the Reds three hard-fought points in their first game of the 2014-15 Premier League season.
Offseason rustiness and Southampton’s energy and organization made it difficult for Liverpool to be at its free-flowing best. Nevertheless, Rodgers was happy that the winning mentality the Reds developed last season is carrying into the new campaign.
“We had to grind out a result and today was a brilliant win for us,” Rodgers said in his postgame press conference, according to LiverpoolFC.com “It was a tough game, the first game back into the new season.
“I’m really happy with that determination and character to win a football match. As the season rolls on, we’ll get better and more fluent.”
Liverpool took the lead in the first half after Jordan Henderson found Raheem Sterling with a perfect pass, and the latter beat Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster with a composed finish.
But the Saints responded, tied the score early in the second half and threatened to go ahead themselves before Rodgers changed the course of the game with a pair of substitutions.
Joe Allen replaced Lucas Leiva in the 63rd minute, improving Liverpool’s possession in the midfield. Summer signing Rickie Lambert came on for Philippe Coutinho 13 minutes later, Liverpool changed formation and earned immediate dividends.
“We got to 1-1 and I could look to the bench and change the way we worked,” Rodgers said. “We flipped (from a 4-3-3) to a diamond and put Rickie on and I think he unsettled them a bit.
“They know his qualities. We started to cross the ball into the box and that led to our second goal. Raheem won a great header and Daniel put a lovely touch on the ball to get the winner.”
“Lovren was excellent,” Rodgers concluded. “It’s always difficult when you play against your old team. He dealt with it really well. He’s a real leader for us in organisation and I thought he was excellent.
“Young Manquillo did well considering he picked up a booking early on. He has come into a different way of working and, at 20 years of age, he was very good.
Liverpool’s win over Southampton wasn’t perfect, nor was it a classic Anfield victory. But it started Liverpool’s season on sound footing and provides a platform on which the Reds can build their fortunes in 2014-15.
Photo via LiverpoolFC.com