Gerrard back to his best as Liverpool sink Leicester
Skipper scores critical goal as he is restored to the Reds line-up against hapless Foxes
Leicester 1 Liverpool 3. Brendan Rodgers praised the performance of Steven Gerrard after the Liverpool captain scored his first goal since the end of September to help the Reds win at Leicester. The 34-year-old was back in the starting line-up after being left out by Rodgers in Saturday's 1-0 win over Stoke and the Liverpool manager was clearly delighted as he watched his side secure their first league away win since 19 October.
"It was an outstanding performance by him and an excellent goal," said Rodgers of Gerrard, and then explained why he'd benched him at Stoke. "He's very important for us. But he's not 24 anymore and you have to do that with players at that stage – it's about mapping out the rest of the season and the game he can play in."
But if Gerrard was a plus for Rodgers, goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was a negative with the Belgian goalkeeper continuing to cause concern within Anfield. In what's turning into a nightmarish season for Mignolet, he inadvertently gave Leicester the lead on 22 minutes when Leonardo Ulloa's shot rattled against the upright and then rebounded off the back of Mignolet's head and into the net.
For a few minutes it seemed as if Liverpool's poor season was set to continue with Leicester – rooted to the foot of the table – in search of only their third league win of the campaign. But the Reds soon replied with Adam Lallana lashing a low half-volley past Kasper Schmeichel on 26 minutes.
For the next half an hour neither side looked convincing but it was the Leicester defence that proved more fallible with Gerrard pouncing on Wes Morgan's weak clearance from a Raheem Sterling cross to fire home his first goal since 27 September.
A wretched few days for Morgan, who scored an own goal at the weekend, ended with his dismissal for felling Rickie Lambert just after the hour mark. Jordan Henderson then wrapped up the win for Liverpool, capitalising on another Leicester error – this one from goalkeeper Schmeichel – to find the net on 83 minutes.
The victory moves Liverpool up into eighth spot, level on 20 points with Arsenal and Tottenham who are both in action this evening. "What's important for me is the spirit," explained Rodgers. "Tonight, being competitive was very important for us. For a spell up until the Palace game, we weren't being competitive. We have changed it around and that's been excellent over the last three games. We still have a way to go but we are going to fight our way through the spell we are in."
Rodgers also laughed off talk of a rift with Gerrard, based on his decision to drop the Kop icon at the weekend. "We spoke again yesterday, him and I, to confirm we hadn't fallen out with each other," he said.
He was less forthcoming on another of his players, Mario Balotelli, who has been asked to explain himself by the FA following allegations of anti-Jewish comments on a social networking site. Rodgers claimed he knew "hardly anything" about the furore. "I've been busy preparing the team and I will probably find out more about it tomorrow," he said.