Football

Rodgers hails 'winning habit'

Reds boss says team's confidence is 'very high'

FOURTH-ROUND REPLAY

BOLTON WANDERERS 1

(Eidur Gudjohnsen 59-pen)

LIVERPOOL 2

(Raheem Sterling 86, Philippe Coutinho 90+1)

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes his side's "winning habit" got them through a tricky FA Cup fourth-round replay at Bolton yesterday morning (Singapore time).

With just four minutes remaining and still trailing to Eidur Gudjohnsen's penalty, the Reds dug deep to equalise through Raheem Sterling before Philippe Coutinho scored the winner in added time at Macron Stadium.

Bolton played the final 25 minutes with 10 men after Neil Dann's sending-off but defended resiliently until their late collapse.

"We have got a great habit at the minute, which is winning games," said Rodgers.

"You can't question the character. They have shown a real strong mentality in my time here.

"At 1-0 (down), I expected us to win it. The confidence at the moment is very high. Our composure after the penalty - it was never a penalty - was very good. We scored two and could have had many more."

Coutinho signed a new five-year contract this week and marked the occasion with a dipping shot for only his third goal of the season.

The Brazil international has arguably been Liverpool's best player in their resurgence over the last two months and Rodgers believes the 22-year-old can reach even greater heights.

"You would pay money to watch the kid," said Rodgers.

"I didn't say Phil is our new Luis Suarez - I said that he can develop during his time here like Luis did.

"Luis left here as a world-class player and Phil can reach that level.

"He won't score the goals Luis did, but he still has that quality which can put him into any team.

"He loves it here at Liverpool and the supporters adore him.

"He's a big talent and, over the coming years, he will be heavily involved in the Brazil squad.

"He's still only 22 and every manager we play against always talks about his quality.

"He's got stronger and there's a wonderful humility to him. If he can add to his goals, he can go on and become a world-class talent."

SWANSONG

Liverpool's come-from-behind win kept alive talismanic captain Steven Gerrard's hopes of a Wembley swansong.

The Reds captain turns 35 on the day of the FA Cup final and Reds supporters had seemingly already pencilled a trip to Wembley into their diaries.

Gerrard, who will leave Anfield for Major League Soccer outfit LA Galaxy when his contract expires in the summer, clocked up his 700th career appearance for his childhood club yesterday morning.

Only Jamie Carragher (737) and Ian Callaghan (857) have worn a red shirt with the Liverbird on their chest more than Gerrard.

With Liverpool trailing 1-0 with just four minutes left, the dream of Gerrard climbing the steps to lift the famous old trophy appeared to be in their dying embers.

However, Sterling cancelled out Gudjohnsen's penalty before Coutinho scored a brilliant injury-time winner to seal a meeting with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in the fifth round.

"You have to keep your patience and keep the width in the game, especially against 10 men," Rodgers told the BBC.

"It was a great pass by Emre Can for the first goal and a great finish for the second goal.

"This is a competition we want to do well in and, thankfully, we're into the next round against Crystal Palace."

Bolton manager Neil Lennon was unhappy with referee Roger East's performance, despite him favouring the Trotters in a debatable penalty decision when Zach Clough went down under minimal contact from Martin Skrtel.

"I thought he was rubbish. The first booking Dann gets isn't a booking - he doesn't make contact," said the Northern Irishman.

"I understand the sending-off, but I thought he spoiled a very good game.

"I told him (Dann) at half-time he had to be careful.

"I don't think the referee had a choice with the second yellow.

"There were other things in the game I wasn't happy with."

Lennon felt the dismissal meant his side just ran out of energy at the end and that was when Liverpool took advantage.

"The pressure came with being a man down against a great team," he added.

"With four minutes to go, we had a lack of concentration.

"The second goal, I think, gets a deflection but it is a great hit." 


- Wire Services.

With Emre, Reds Can do it

 

Philippe Coutinho might have earned the plaudits for scoring the injury-time winner against Bolton yesterday morning (Singapore time), but Liverpool fans had no doubt who their best player was.

The Reds supporters voted on Twitter for German midfielder Emre Can to be their Man of the Match.

The 21-year-old (in red), who has shone in a defensive role in recent months, was pushed into midfield as the Reds chased the game late on after falling behind to an Eidur Gudjohnsen penalty.

And the £10-million ($20m) signing from Bayer Leverkusen showed his quality going forward, when he sent an inch-perfect dink over the defence for Raheem Sterling to score the equaliser in the 86th minute. Can also rattled the crossbar with a rocket of a shot from the edge of the area.

"When Bolton went down to 10 men, we went to two at the back and I pushed him into a midfield role," Rodgers said of Can.

"This club's great history is synonymous with players who have the ability to play and guys who have the courage to play. That's how I want my team to play and Emre has that."

Can has found it difficult at first to impress Rodgers who used him sparingly.

In the first 10 games of the season, Can featured just four times for the Reds.

An ankle injury interrupted his progress not long after that but, since Christmas, the German has been a permanent fixture in the starting line-up.

Since the start of last month, no Liverpool player has made more interceptions than Can's seven in the Premier League. He's even extremely high on the clearances mark, too, with only Mamadou Sakho (36) and Martin Skrtel (30) having made more than the German (29).

"Emre is a wonderful player," Rodgers told talkSPORT.

"I went to see him in Germany last year. I was watching him as a central midfielder but, every time I watched him, he never played there. He was either centre back or fullback.

"The only positions he didn't play was goalkeeper and as a striker.

"He's a big talent."

Former Liverpool defender Rob Jones, who won the FA Cup in 1992 with the Merseyside club, was impressed with Can's performance.

"Emre Can has been great tonight... Getting better every game," Jones said on Twitter.

Former Reds striker John Aldridge also tipped the German to become a key player for Rodgers over the next couple of years.

"Can gets better every time I see him. Could be a big player in the future for us. Proper football brain too!" Aldridge tweeted. 
- Wire Services.

EMRE CAN’S MATCH STATS

  • Pass accuracy: 86%
  • Touches: 84
  • Shots: 2
  • Dribbles: 3
  • Tackles: 2