Hearts 0 Liverpool 1: Rodgers impressed by Sterling display
Hearts 0 Liverpool 1: Brendan Rodgers heaps praise on Raheem Sterling after the winger impresses for the Reds at Tynecastle
Brendan Rodgers hailed Raheem Sterling after the Liverpool winger sparkled in a narrow victory over Hearts in the first leg of their Europa League play-off at Tynecastle Stadium.
Liverpool were forced back as Hearts produced a swashbuckling performance in the first half, but the Reds’ 17-year-old attacker provided a constant outlet for the visitors.
Sterling’s interception and subsequent pass handed Fabio Borini a splendid chance to put the Reds ahead on the stroke half-time, but the Italian striker’s effort hit the woodwork.
Rodgers’ side sealed victory in the 81st minute when Andy Webster deflected Martin Kelly’s cross past Hearts goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald.
“He’s 17 years old and as you saw in the first half, tactically he’s improving all the time. His pressing is good, he’s starting to read the game and show good football intelligence,” Rodgers told ITV.
“And then when he has the ball he’s really exciting and good one-on-one – and he had a good test tonight.
“I thought Raheem showed some great moments, he arrived in good areas, and he was a real threat for us.”
Rodgers admitted Liverpool struggled in a tight opening 45 minutes, but the Reds boss was pleased by his side’s response after the interval.
“First and foremost, it was a win, which is very important in European games,” added Rodgers.
“Certainly coming to place like this here where the crowd were right up for it, I thought the players were excellent.
“We had a problem in the first half with our positioning – in order to keep possession you need to have good positioning – it was something we spoke about at half-time.
“In the second half, I thought our management of the game was much better, and we kept possession better and stayed patient, and the goal came from a good move. It was a good win.”