Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has expressed his delight after posting his first Premier League win at Anfield with a 1-0 victory over Reading.
Raheem Sterling struck the only goal of the game in the first half, before the Merseyside outfit cruised to three points despite their failure to add gloss to the scoreline.
And Rodgers insisted securing what is just the Reds’ third league win at home in 2012 will provide a sizeable boost for players and supporters alike.
“I’m very pleased for the players and the supporters – it’s been a long time coming to be honest,” he told reporters.
“We should have had three points here long before today but on the back of an international break and players travelling all around the world I thought it was a terrific performance.
“An excellent goal, created many chances – 19 shots at goal – need to improve our finishing which is an ongoing theme but as long as we get the three points and a clean sheet that was the most important thing.
“You don’t want it to keep dragging on but what gave me comfort was the mindset and ability of the players. They’ve kept working, we’ve seen their perseverance and ability to keep going.
“You never want it to run on and today was important because any team that comes up from the Championship – and I know from Swansea last year – players come to grounds like this and always try to make it difficult.
“Reading are a terrific club and last time they were here they won 1-0 but it was nice to get the result and a good performance.”
The Northern Irishman also hailed the performance of 17-year-old Sterling, whose strike made him the second-youngest Premier League goalscorer of all-time, behind former Red Michael Owen.
“I’m very pleased for him because it’s part of the game we’ve been working on,” he added.
“The players on the outside, we’re trying to get them into that half position inside so they can make those runs. He’s got good pace so once he’s on the inside he can break the line of the back four and get in behind.
“All the credit to him because he’s got to identify the moment to go in and he did that and it was a wonderful finish. He’s a terrific talent.”
Rodgers also launched a staunch defence of Luis Suarez, who laid on Sterling’s goal with a sublime assist, but was typically profligate in front of goal.
“He scores a lot of chances. He’s not perfect, he’s not going to score every chance but he’s got a great return when you look at his stats,” he continued.
“There’s no doubt he’d want to be a bit more clinical but we want to get some more players around him that can take the load off him as well.
“He leads the line terrific for us and his movement and creativity is great. He had a nice moment with the supporters when he got brought down for a free kick.”
Meanwhile, Rodgers’ opposite number Brian McDermott felt his side could have got something from the game, and expressed disappointment at the Royals’ start.
He said: “I said to the lads at half-time, ‘They’ve had the possession and we understand that’ but they never really hurt us with their passing moves but they did with a ball over the top.
Second half we were right in the game and I honestly thought we were going to get at least a point out of the game.
“We had a couple of opportunities and we were on the front foot right to the end so there are a lot of pluses to come out of that.
“You don’t want to be saying well done to your players when you’ve lost a game but we move on with a lot of positives.
“We’ve got to start the game at three o’ clock. We’ve got to get going at the start of the game and pass the ball like we can do.”
The Englishman also spoke out in support of his striker Jason Roberts, who controversially refused to wear a ‘Kick it Out’ t-shirt as part of the anti-racism group’s week of action.
“I spoke to Jason about that and he was very clear in his views, so I supported him 100 per cent,” he continued.
“He had his reasons and I support him. What’s gone on this week when you consider what’s happened with Danny Rose… I wrote to Danny Rose because I thought he conducted himself incredibly well and looks like a really good guy.
“Hopefully, we can put these issues to bed because it just doesn’t belong in society and it certainly doesn’t belong in football.
“It’s an emotive subject and rightly so. People feel very, very strongly. I know that I can only speak for my players and I can speak for Jason, who feels very strongly about this. I back Jason 100%.”