LIVERPOOL, March 2- Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes it is “frightening” to discover how much Philippe Coutinho is worth now after the Brazilian scored the winner in a potentially decisive 2-1 victory over Manchester City
The forward’s goal kept the Merseysiders within touching distance of the Premier League top four and diminishes City’s own hopes of retaining their crown with them five points behind Chelsea having played a game more.
But it was Coutinho’s strike from the left corner of the penalty area 15 minutes from time that continued his personal rise.
The 22-year-old, who arrived from Inter Milan in 2013 for £8.5 million (11.7 million euros) signed a new five-year contract last month and has added goals to his game following Rodgers’ request.
The Liverpool manager also told how this victory was particularly pleasing given the late night trip home from Turkey where his side were knocked out of the Europa League to Besiktas on Thursday.
“It was a brilliant result and an equally brilliant performance,” said Rodgers. “We thoroughly deserved it, the players were relentless. It was very pleasing.
“Getting back at 4:30am in the morning on Thursday and not getting home to 6am and then to prepare for a game against the champions is not easy. You have to take your hat off to them for the way they dealt with that.
“It’s a big one but there are still a lot of games to go. It was a significant win because it keeps us in the chase.
“Coutinho is operating on a very high level. His performances in particular since he signed his contract have been a joy to watch.
“He came in at 19, is still developing. He’s a sensational footballer. To beat Joe Hart from that angle with that power was phenomenal.
“He is a player that has always assisted and made the final pass, he’s a very selfless player, he’s a very humble guy. There are improvements he can make, he is playing at a football club who adores him and loves it here.
“He has a humility, wants to work and is an absolute joy to work with. He was £8.5 million a few years ago, it’s frightening to know what he’s worth now.
“To keep them to one shot on target in a game they wanted to win was incredible.
“We can only focus on Burnley, we just have to concentrate on the next game and finish as high as we possibly can.
“If we can get into the top four it is better achievement than last season. We just need to keep collating the points.”
Jordan Henderson’s 10th-minute opener had been cancelled out by Edin Dzeko 16 minutes later before Coutinho found the winner.
– Not over yet –
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini refused to concede that his side’s title challenge is over despite this result meaning they failed to put any pressure on Chelsea who competed in the League Cup final with Tottenham.
“It is not over,” he said. “You never know in football.
“Liverpool scored very good goals. We also missed some good chances. It was a close game where Liverpool played very well.
“We are worried about our team, not anyone else. It is important to carry on playing in the same way. We scored nine goals in the last two Premier League games, that’s why I played the same team.
“Were Liverpool more energetic? The only way to explain is that they played well.
“We have to see the reaction in the next game. I hope the team will recover.
“I’m concerned that we are losing the ball too much – pressure is a factor. There is much we must analyse to improve.
“Of course it is difficult to reach the top of table if you lose three points. But we must keep going and try to return to our normal performance and see where it takes us.”