Premier League - Rodgers lauds Sterling, Balotelli after Liverpool win

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers heaped praise on Raheem Sterling and Mario Balotelli following his side’s 3-0 triumph over Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

Eurosport
Premier League - Rodgers lauds Sterling, Balotelli after Liverpool win
.

View photo

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers (L) shakes hands with Mario Balotelli (Reuters)

Sterling grabbed the opening goal and proved a menace to the Spurs defence throughout, while Balotelli looked lively without finding the net on his debut.

[STERLING STEALS THE SHOW AS LIVERPOOL BEAT SPURS ON BALOTELLI BOW]

The teenage winger almost notched a superb second but, with the goal at his mercy after weaving through the opposition defence, he prodded tamely towards Hugo Lloris in the opposition goal.

"Raheem ran into the box like Ricky Villa and finished it like Ricky Gervais," Rodgers said of the chance.

"Raheem needs to be better on his left foot. It was a wonderful moment of skill and he was fantastic for us again. His tactical awareness is improving, and for a kid of 19.....he's been great."

Balotelli, a £16 million signing from AC Milan, spurned three clear openings in the first-period, but still earned his manager’s praise after a tireless 61 minute performance.

[CLOCKWATCH: HOW DID BALOTELLI DO ON HIS LIVERPOOL DEBUT?]

"Mario was excellent," said Rodgers. "You could see his team ethic - he was pressing, working for us as much as he could. He was very good.

"Take away the circus that surrounds him - the circus he probably invites himself sometimes - and control the background noise and get him focused on his football, and he's a good fella.

"He'll make mistakes and he was disappointed not to score, but he'll be a handful for defenders. He's now at an age where he has to show maturity. Now I'm giving him responsibility.

"For the first time in his life, he marked at a corner. Seriously.

"An international player who has won three titles in Italy and the Champions League and we were doing corners in training. I said 'you're picking him up at a corner' and he said 'I don't mark at corners'. I replied: 'Well, now you do'.

"He had a great header against Tottenham from a corner. Treat him like an adult and it'll bring the best out of him."

View photo

.

Liverpool's English midfielder Raheem Sterling (L) celebrates scoring the opening goal during the English Premier …

OUR VIEW

Balotelli’s never defended a corner? That’s superb. We can hardly praise Rodgers for ensuring basic tactical instructions are enforced across the squad, rather bemoan his previous managers who let him glide through matches without defensive advice instead.

Rodgers’ pre-match remarks that it was “not the Mario Balotelli show” were not entirely correct given he immediately deposed the in-form Philippe Coutinho for the temperamental striker, but Balotelli did enough on his debut to suggest he is willing to trackback and contribute outside of the penalty area.

As to Sterling, the England attacking midfielder highlighted his growing importance to Liverpool with a goal and another energetic performance. If he can continue finding the net, then the Reds are surely set to land another spot in the top four.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Liverpool enjoy a favourable September after the international break, with four home games out of five – the final match the most important: a Merseyside derby at Anfield.

View comments (16)
Write for Yahoo Sport