Hodgson grateful to `outstanding' Gerrard
Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson admitted he owed a "debt of gratitude" to Steven Gerrard after his captain's match-winning hat-trick secured a 3-1 Europa League win over Napoli at Anfield.The Reds were trailing to Ezequiel Lavezzi's 28th-minute goal in a first half devoid of any real quality on their part.However, the arrival of Gerrard after the interval completely turned things around and after a couple of near-misses the England midfielder clicked into gear.He latched onto a gift from former Liverpool defender Andrea Dossena, whose interception diverted the ball towards goalkeeper Morgan de Sanctis but not with enough pace to prevent the 30-year-old reaching it first. Gerrard then converted a penalty two minutes from time after Glen Johnson was fouled by Salvatore Aronica and he completed his treble with a delicate dink over De Sanctis."It was outstanding," said Hodgson of Gerrard's performance. "In the first half we hadn't played that badly and were unlucky to be a goal down to an error which was punished."His entry onto the field was a catalyst, it galvanised the crowd and the team and the way he scored the first goal epitomised the energy and the spirit the team showed in the second half. We owe a big debt of gratitude to him but he will be the first to join me in saying the whole team in the second half gave a good performance. It was a a real leader's performance."
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