Rodgers: Downing deserves moment
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers was eager for Stewart Downing to savour the moment after the wideman's superb strike proved the winner in Thursday evening's Europa League clash with Anzhi Makhachkala at Anfield.
Downing - moved from the wing to full-back for the second half - cut in from the left flank in the 53rd minute to crack home a shot from outside the box. It secured a 1-0 victory that moved the Reds to the top of Group A.
And Rodgers urged the 28-year-old England international to soak up the applause of the home crowd. Rodgers said: "It has been difficult for Stewart since he has been here, and it was just something to help his confidence."
He added: "I think the Kop recognised that it was a wonderful goal at the end and if you can get a round of applause from them, that would mean a lot to anyone - a player, manager, coach, whatever.
"You saw how they reacted accordingly. They gave him a great round of applause and that will hopefully do him good going forward. His commitment tonight was excellent. He had to play in a different position in the second half, but he has got the quality to do that."
Liverpool deserved the win, putting big-spending Russian outfit Anzhi - who are overseen by ex-Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink and had former Inter Milan and Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o up front - in the shade for much of the contest and looking increasingly threatening as it went on.
Reflecting on the performance, which yielded a third straight clean sheet in all competitions, Rodgers said: "Anzhi have a terrific group of players - they have invested heavily in it and they have a top manager.
"So to get a win and keep another clean sheet was excellent, and I thought we deserved it. I thought our intent in the game was good. We wanted to go forward, and particularly in the second half, we stepped it up and did very well."
Rodgers fielded a strong side including the likes of Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez, resisting the temptation to rest players ahead of Sunday's Barclays Premier League derby at Everton and making only three changes from the win over Reading on Saturday.
Rodgers said: "Our squad is not overly big, but we were at home and the condition of the players physically is very good. So I had no concerns about that. The work-rate in training and the games has been fantastic. We will recover well after a very good performance and result, and now we are all really looking forward to Sunday."
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