x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Daniel Sturridge strike keeps Premier League spirits up at Liverpool

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers hails a 'terrific' 1-0 win over Aston Villa.

Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool rounds goalkeeper Brad Guzan of Aston Villa to score.
Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool rounds goalkeeper Brad Guzan of Aston Villa to score.

ASTON VILLA 0

LIVERPOOL 1

Sturridge 21’

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers hailed a "terrific" 1-0 win over Aston Villa on Saturday.

Daniel Sturridge provided Liverpool's match-winner for a second successive weekend as the Merseyside club edged Aston Villa to fashion their best start to a Premier League season in five years.

The striker, who started his youth career with Villa, delivered a moment of pure quality midway through the first half, receiving Jose Enrique's left-wing pass before dancing past two defenders, rounding goalkeeper Brad Guzan and transferring his balance to poke home with his left foot.

"It was a terrific win for us," Rodgers told Sky Sports.

"The first half, we had good control of the game and scored an excellent goal, and in the second half we just needed to defend a bit more deeply today.

"If we open up too much, they can really hurt you. Our aim was just to keep our lines tight together and deny them many chances. It was a good win for us as this is a difficult team to play against.

"We looked calm on the ball in the first half, some of our momentum was very good, our positioning was good, our mentality was good. In the second half, you expect more pressure from them, but overall, Simon [Mignolet] has made a couple of terrific saves and we got three points."

Rodgers believes the strong start to the season, in contrast to last term when Liverpool only recorded their first league win at the end of September, has much to do with the mentality that has been developing at the club.

"It's still very early," he said. "What was important was to make a good start. We didn't have a good start at all last year. Since the turn of the year, we've been getting better and better."

Part of the improved belief can be put down to the arrival of defender Kolo Toure, who at 32 has helped replace the experience lost following the retirement of Liverpool stalwart Jamie Carragher.

"He [Toure] has been brilliant," Rodgers said. "Obviously, you know Jamie Carragher well and it was very important to get someone in of a similar ilk."

Villa boss Paul Lambert was certain his team could take positives from the game.

"I knew it was going to be a big ask," Lambert said. "We have always been in the games. We just got beaten by one today.

"I can't be too critical of the lads, because they have given everything. The improvement is there for all to see."

REPORT CARD

• Aston Villa Showed the same work rate as they did against Arsenal and Chelsea, but lacked cutting edge this time. 6/10

• Liverpool Deserved win but should have scored more, resulting in a nervy finale. 7/10

• Man of the match Daniel Sturridge – Match winner for second straight game with sublime finish.

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE