Brendan Rodgers claimed he had no qualms about winning ugly as Liverpool returned to the Premier League’s top four with a scrappy 2-0 victory over Hull City.
Rodgers’ side took the points despite an underwhelming performance thanks to Daniel Agger’s first-half header and Luis Suarez’s superb free-kick after the break.
As a result, the Reds moved back into the UEFA Champions League qualification places at the expense of Merseyside rivals Everton.
It was far from Liverpool’s best display of the season, but after successive defeats by Manchester City and Chelsea over the Christmas period, Reds boss Rodgers was just delighted to get back to winning ways.
“I have told the players that I think that is our best win of the season,” Rodgers said. “In a lot of our games we have been vibrant, had great energy, scored goals and performed well, but on the back of the games we have had this period, to play a lot of the same players against a team who won their last league game 6-0, we knew we we’re going to have to tough it out and dig in. We might not have always been at our best, but we scored two great goals, created other opportunities and restricted Hull to no shots on target.”
Agger nodded the Reds ahead in the 36th minute from Philippe Coutinho’s corner, before Suarez found the top corner with a long-range free-kick five minutes into the second half.
Rodgers was quick to praise the team effort, but also reserved plaudits for Uruguay international striker Suarez, who played with a “knock on his foot” when many other players would have cried off, the Reds manager said.
“Luis will always get the plaudits because he is a world class player,” Rodgers said. “He has a real bad knock on the top of his foot from the Chelsea game and nine out of 20 players would not have played. I know from working and managing players that most footballers wouldn’t have played with that. He had a big strapping on it and put himself out there for the team, and that is why he gets the goals he does, because he is so determined.”
Hull began the game with a clear intent to contain Liverpool, who lost just twice in the whole of last year at Anfield.
The Tigers had beaten the Reds just four weeks ago and were coming off a 6-0 win over Fulham on Saturday, but after three games in six days, they just did not have the energy to match Liverpool, Hull manager Steve Bruce said.
“Possibly it was a game too far,” Bruce said. “We were game enough to keep on trying, but there were a lot of tired bodies out there and three games in six days was a bit much for us. For a club like us to get a result at a place like this you have to be right at it... Sometimes you just have to say you were beaten by the better team and we were.”
Despite just one win from seven games, Hull remain 10th and six points above the relegation zone, a position which has Bruce more than satisfied considering 12 months ago his team were playing in the second tier.
“Twenty-three points is a huge achievement for us, considering this time last year we were playing at Blackpool. We have made huge strides,” he added.