English Premiership

Rodgers salutes resilient Sterling

2014-10-20 12:28
Raheem Sterling (AFP)
Cape Town - Brendan Rodgers saluted Raheem Sterling's courageous display as the Liverpool star ignored a week of criticism to lead his side to an unforgettable 3-2 win at QPR.

Sterling had endured widespread derision after England manager Roy Hodgson revealed the Reds winger had told him he was too tired to play in last weekend's Euro 2016 qualifier against Estonia.

The 19-year-old's commitment to his country and passion for the sport were subsequently questioned, but Sterling made a point to the critics as he produced two key contributions at Loftus Road on Sunday to seal the points for Rodgers's men in one of the most astonishing matches in recent Premier League history.

With Hodgson watching from the stands, former QPR trainee Sterling silenced the jibes of the home fans, who chanted "he sleeps when he wants" at the youngster, by instigating the move that lead to Liverpool's opener and then their unlikely winner deep into stoppage-time.

"The best players come alive when the game goes dead," Rodgers said.

"For the first goal he spotted it, played it early; it was a great run from Glen Johnson to invite the quick ball, and obviously a great cross that the defender turned in.

"And the breakaways for the other two, they are just all about his speed, his technique, his courage to carry the ball, run with the ball.

"It was great courage and cleverness from him today."

Rodgers is said to be frustrated that Hodgson went public with Sterling's complaints about fatigue.

But the Liverpool manager is adamant there is no need for him or Sterling to meet up with Hodgson to clear the air.

"I haven't thought on that a lot to be honest, there has been a whole series of things said and written about an unfortunate incident," Rodgers said.

"We have to move on from that. I was actually quite busy believe it or not today, so I haven't had the chance (to speak to Hodgson).

"The kid's played the game and now he's having a shower, so I don't think he'll see him, not unless Roy's having a shower!

"There's no issue, Roy and I speak and communicate well, we'll always find time to speak. He's a good man."

In the end, Rodgers might have been relieved that Hodgson did agree to rest Sterling in Estonia, because he badly needed the teenager's inspiration on a day when Liverpool, badly let down by another lacklustre performance, including an incredible missed open goal, from Mario Balotelli, were once again well below their best.

QPR twice hit the bar twice through Leroy Fer before shooting themselves in the foot through Richard Dunne's 10th career own goal.

QPR substitute Eduardo Vargas equalised in the 87th minute and then again in stoppage-time after Philippe Coutinho's 90th minute strike had restored Liverpool's advantage.

Remarkably that wasn't the end of the drama as Steven Caulker turned Sterling's 95th minute cross into his own net to lift Liverpool to fifth and leave QPR rooted to the bottom of the table.

It was all too much for QPR manager Harry Redknapp, who responded in combative fashion to questions about his future following reports this week that Malaysian owner Tony Fernandes is considering sacking him.

"I couldn't give a monkey's about speculation, if you think I'm bothered about silly people keeping writing rubbish," Redknapp said.

"I don't even buy newspapers. The only time I hear is if some idiot comes up to me and says 'ooh, have you seen the paper today Harry?' And I say 'I don't know, I don't read it'.

"You only do what you can do, your best, that's what you can do in life. "If it ain't good enough, it's up to other people to make their mind up.

"I hear other names mentioned, but they couldn't do any better than what I can do, that's for sure."

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