Football - Rodgers defends Sterling

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists Reheem Sterling was not the type of player to dive and rejected suggestions the 19-year-old could earn himself an unwanted reputation like a number of other Premier League players.

Stoke manager Mark Hughes felt referee Anthony Taylor "bought" Sterling's attempt to win a crucial penalty in his side's 5-3 defeat at home to Liverpool.

Having trailed 2-0 to Ryan Shawcross's own goal and Luis Suarez's 21st of the season the Potters hauled themselves level at half-time through two former Reds Peter Crouch and Charlie Adam.

However, Hughes felt Sterling went down under minimal contact from Marc Wilson to win a spot-kick which Steven Gerrard converted.

Suarez added his second, Jon Walters replied before Daniel Sturridge ended a seven-week spell out with an ankle sprain to add the fifth right at the end.

"I don't think he's in that bracket. Goodness me he is a young boy who gets kicked left, right and centre and we got good fortune," Rodgers said.

"The defender doesn't make contact with the ball but does the man and Raheem is running at such speed.

"He is a fearsome competitor and he is not that type. He has had many decisions gone against him in his young career, ones where he has had dead-cert penalties.

"I don't think he has gone down easily. Contact was minimal but the pace he is going at puts him over."

Rodgers was delighted to see Suarez and Sturridge resume their formidable partnership, which produces a goal from one or the other every 56 minutes on average, to lift his side back into the top four.

"Daniel has pace and power on the counter-attack and both combined very well," he added after the Reds' first league win at Stoke in just over 29 years.

"Both are outstanding talents - you can see that from their link-up for both Luis' second goal and Dan's movement for Luis to play him in (for the final goal) was exceptional in such a short space.

"Sturridge showed great skill and awareness to get up and have two touches to finish the game (after Jack Butland had brilliantly stopped his initial effort).

"To get the fifth goal here really shows that threat we have."