LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers felt yesterday’s emotional 3-2 win over title rivals Manchester City was a game his team may well have lost in the early part of his tenure, but the Reds are made of much more resilient stuff these days.
Their tenth successive league win opened up a seven-point gap to third-placed City, who have two matches in hand but have had their destiny taken out of their own control.
“The group is very tight. We foster a real closeness here in our spirit and you need that if you are going to win anything. There has to be a cause to fight for,” the Northern Irishman said.
“Getting pegged back to 2-2, we may have gone on to lose that game when I first came in here, but we dusted ourselves off and went again and the level of some of our football was so good we ended up getting a terrific goal.
“The performance level of the players was sensational – to dominate as we did in the first half with that energy and intelligence was remarkable.
“We showed our resilience to see it through. Ten wins in succession is an incredible achievement and against all the odds we are where we are and are still fighting.
“I thought we were incredible today. We showed so much quality. To come back showed the character in this group – it’s three very valuable points for us.
“We were well on top in the first half but they’ve got top players and top players respond. They very quickly got themselves back into the game, but we changed the shape again and the goal came.
“It was a wonderful atmosphere, pitch-side it was incredible, so between us all – players, supporters and staff – it was a great victory for us.”
However, Rodgers side-stepped the question about whether Liverpool were now favourites to land the title.
“I said at the beginning of the game it was a significant game, and it may end up being a significant one,” he said. “But we’ve got Norwich next week – they played well yesterday.
“We’ll enjoy the win, recover well and concentrate on the next opponent.”
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini accepted his side failed to deal with the early onslaught launched by Liverpool, but was pleased with their comeback and does not consider the title race done and dusted just yet.
“The team played very well. We had chances to score and win the game and we didn’t. Finally Liverpool won the game with a mistake,” he said. “It is not the end of the Premier League.
“The most important thing today is now it is not dependent what we do in the future.
“If Liverpool win their four games maybe they deserve to win the title, but we will continue fighting until the end. We have to play one of our games in hand on Wednesday.”
Pellegrini felt they should have had a penalty in the first half with the score at 2-0 when Mamadou Sakho clattered into Edin Dzeko, but he refused to criticise referee Mark Clattenburg.
“It was a very clear penalty but I don’t want to talk about the referee – it is not fair to think that we lost the game because of the referee,” he added.
City lost influential midfielder Yaya Toure to injury midway through the first half, which may cast doubt on his participation in the rest of the season.
“Yaya has an injury in his hamstring and will be assessed [today],” the Chilean said.