BRENDAN RODGERS backed his players after they refused to put the ball out of play in the build-up to the equaliser in yesterday’s 2-2 draw with Manchester City.
The Liverpool boss insisted referee Anthony Taylor told his men to continue with the game while City’s players – and their fans – were waiting for them to stop the game so Edin Dzeko could receive treatment.
The best part of a minute want by before Daniel Sturridge hammered the ball in much to the irritation of the jeering home crowd and City boss Roberto Mancini, but Rodgers was unapologetic.
“There was no injury,” said Rodgers.
“There was an incident in the second half when Daniel (Agger) put the ball straight out because Aguero was hurt.
“But this was quite clear. In the first incident, both bodies get tangled up.
“Dzeko thinks it is a foul but Agger did what good defenders do, he gets in front and tries to nick the ball.
“The referee told a couple of our players, Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge, to play on, to keep the game flowing.
“But I think this all takes away from what was a brilliant finish by Daniel Sturridge.”
This was Liverpool’s second successive 2-2 scoreline on the road, following the draw with Arsenal in midweek.
And although Rodgers acknowledges that his side’s excellent performances in both games have been spoilt by defensive lapses, he couldn’t hide his delight at the way his men consigned City to a result that leaves them nine points behind Manchester rivals United in their bid to retain the Premier League title.
“It was an outstanding performance,” said Rodgers. “This is a notoriously difficult place to get a result, even score a goal.
“So we were outstanding in the game but mistakes have cost us. It’s all part of our growth but it was important to see the confidence in the players, the desire and quality, the efficiency of our game.
“We kept pushing and no-one would deny we deserved to win the game. That is a real positive going forward but it is difficult because it’s a game we should have won.
“That has been the story of the season for us, but once we eliminate the errors – and we will do, no question about that – we will be a force because we have really talented players. Cut out mistakes and draws will turn into wins.
“But I’m really disappointed for the players, for them to put so much into the game.
“The Aguero finish was unbelievable but we are bitterly disappointed he was even in that situation.”
After singling out the young players in the wake of the humiliating FA Cup collapse at Oldham a week ago, Rodgers was concentrating on the influence of his elder statesmen at Eastlands.
“Jamie Carragher has had two big games this week and two big performances against top, top players,” said Rodgers. “Aguero is one of the best in the world but he marshalled and controlled everything.
“Steven Gerrard seems to get better and better as season goes on, it was an incredible goal from him today.
“The senior players are vital for us, we have talented young players that are going to need time to grow, but senior players have been outstanding and performing consistently.”