Daniel Sturridge has paid tribute to the quality and team spirit in the Liverpool squad — and reserved special praise for two of the Reds’ standout performers in Saturday’s Merseyside derby.
The England striker had the final word at Goodison Park as he glanced home an equalizer in the 89th minute of the game to level the scores at 3-3.
However, afterward, the 24-year-old was keen to deflect the plaudits toward teammates Simon Mignolet and Jon Flanagan, who both delivered inspiring performances on the day.
Mignolet foiled Everton time and again with an impressive array of saves, while Flanagan, playing in his first derby for the club, was ruthless and assured throughout.
“There is so much talent running through this team,” Sturridge told the Liverpool Echo. “It’s not about individuals, it’s about Liverpool Football Club, and it’s great to be part of it.
“Simon is a top-class goalkeeper. At the start of the season everyone saw what he was all about with that penalty save against Stoke City.
“He set himself a standard. It’s difficult as a ‘keeper to be unbelievable in every game. But Simon is an unbelievable guy on and off the field, and we’re so happy to have him here.
“I thought Jon Flanagan was man of the match against Everton, and everyone was so happy for him.
“He works tirelessly every day in training. He’s a top-class lad off the field. I love the guy. He’s been patient waiting for his opportunity, and he has taken his chance.”
Sturridge’s late intervention silenced the Goodison Park faithful, who were moments away from celebrating taking all three points in one of the most enthralling Merseyside derbies in recent times.
Then No. 15 rose between Gareth Barry and Ross Barkley to apply the slightest of touches to Steven Gerrard‘s pinpoint cross and send the ball flying past Tim Howard.
Afterward, Sturridge revealed how Gerrard’s advice allowed the Reds to strike back in the game.
“Steven told me to attack the near post, and I’m glad I took his advice,” he said. “The delivery was brilliant, and I was just able to direct it into the far corner.
“It was a remarkable game to be a part of. I wasn’t too sure whether I would get on, as we were holding onto a lead at 2-1.
“Sometimes when you are holding onto a lead, you don’t want to make changes because it can affect the team. But when they scored, the manager told me to warm up again and then put me on there. I am just glad that I was able to help us get a draw.
“In the end we have to be happy with a point. We were a bit disappointed that we didn’t win having led twice, but now we’ll look to push on.
“We showed great character and resilience to get back into the game. A draw was probably the fair result.”
Sturridge is delighted to have had such an impact on the derby. However, he intends to give his local supermarket a wide berth over the coming days, after a recent conversation he had with an Evertonian there.
“The guy on the checkout in the supermarket told me he wouldn’t serve me if I scored, so I’m not going in my local Tesco for a while now,” joked Sturridge. “The fella knows who he is, I know who he is. I don’t intend to go in there for the next few days.
“Maybe I’ll pop in next week just to check whether he’s OK and to see whether we can move on from this.”
Photo via LiverpoolFC.com
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