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Rodgers: I almost subbed match-winner Coutinho

SoccerNews in English Premier League 9 Aug 2015

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Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was relieved not to have taken off Philippe Coutinho shortly before the playmaker’s late strike sealed a 1-0 win over Stoke City.

The Brazilian beat Jack Butland from distance to settle what had been a drab affair at the Britannia Stadium in the sides’ Premier League opener on Sunday.

With Coutinho having been on Copa America duty with Brazil during the close-season, Rodgers considered substituting the player, a decision he would have regretted.

When asked whether the midfielder could become Liverpool’s star man in 2015-16, Rodgers responded: “I think he already is.

“He’s shown, for such a young player, his quality. He’s only been back training three weeks as well, so he’s not at the top of his fitness.

“It was a great turn and a wonderful strike to win the game. We felt Glen Johnson started to get a bit of space down that side and we moved Phil from the central area to that left side but we still wanted to win the game.

“We were looking to make a positive change – so if he was going to come off bringing Danny Ings on – but when he scores the goal your mind changes.

“I can’t profess to be any sort of genius, it was fortunate he stayed on and he scored the winner and we won the game.”

The win also ensures Liverpool gained a measure of revenge following their 6-1 drubbing at the Britannia Stadium on the final day of last season.

“It’s always difficult when you come to Stoke,” Rodgers added.

“But to get a win off the back of where we were 11 weeks ago I thought it was an outstanding collective performance.

“Defensively we were strong, we knew we’d have to defend well, but we knew we had the quality to win the game.

“It certainly feels better than 11 weeks ago.”

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