Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers saluted captain Steven Gerrard’s “unique” battling character as he overcame the disappointment of missing a penalty by heading the winner in a 2-1 victory over QPR.
The hosts established an early lead at Anfield courtesy of Philippe Coutinho’s eighth goal of the season, only to be pegged back by a 73rd-minute volley from Leroy Fer.
Nedum Onuoha’s pull on Martin Skrtel then handed Gerrard the opportunity to restore his side’s lead from the spot, but his effort was comfortably saved by Rob Green.
Onuoha saw red for a foul on Jordon Ibe and, with three minutes left, Gerrard nodded home to seal a Premier League win that just about keeps his side’s UEFA Champions League hopes alive.
It was a poignant moment for Gerrard in front of the Kop as he prepares to leave Liverpool at the end of the season to move to the MLS.
“There’s a very, very small group of players in that bracket, where in the big games they score the big goals and make the big contributions,” said Rodgers.
“He’s [Gerrard] done that, everyone has seen that throughout his entire career at Liverpool.
“He missed the penalty and sometimes you think it may go against us, but there is no-one more determined to score and make up for it than Steven.
“It was a very, very good header.
“He was very determined, especially after the penalty.
“You sometimes find with a lot of players that when they miss a big penalty like that, normally their game goes and their confidence goes.
“But he’s the total opposite. He’s one of a unique group of players that whenever they need to respond, they normally do. It was an outstanding header and obviously gets us the win.”
Rodgers reflected: “We made it tough for ourselves but we responded brilliantly once they drew level.”
Next on the agenda for Rodgers’ side is Sunday’s trip to Stamford Bridge for a clash with champions-elect Chelsea.