Rodgers praises 'brilliant' Downing after Liverpool rout

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Liverpool boss Rodgers to miss QPR clash through illness
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Liverpool boss Rodgers to miss QPR clash through illness

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers hailed Stewart Downing after the winger played a vital role in Saturday afternoon's 4-0 win over Fulham.

The Englishman posted both his first Premier League assist and goal since his 2011 summer move to Anfield as the Reds ran riot at Anfield, with Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez also on the score sheet.

And, having largely relegated the former Middlesbrough wide player to the bench since arriving at the club, Rodgers praised Downing's eagerness to fight for his place.

"I thought he was brilliant today in every aspect of the game," he told reporters. "He’s in his late 20s, an England international a few years ago and he wasn’t playing so we spoke about how he could get into the team and if he wasn’t playing then we would’ve looked at it in January.

"I think his reaction from that moment - like it has been for Jose Enrique and one or two of the others - has been outstanding. His goal today was a fantastic strike.

"His pass for Steven [Gerrard]’s goal was superb so if he keeps playing like that he’ll be going nowhere."

The Northern Irishman went on to laud the reaction of his players following a disappointing 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa last time out.

"Last week we disappointed [but] this week [has] been our first week we’ve been able to work right the way through from Saturday to Saturday," he added. "And you could see the reaction of the players. Their pressing was outstanding and the quality of their football and goals was brilliant, so it was a great three points for us and terrific performance."

Rodgers also expressed satisfaction with the season so far and looked ahead to a packed festive schedule in which he believes the Reds can kick on.

He continued: "We know the [festive fixtures will] be tough games but our only focus is the next game.

"Obviously Stoke will be difficult but over this period there are four games in quick succession so we’ll recover the players well and make sure our focus is right because it’s a great opportunity to pick up points and keep moving forward."

Meanwhile, Fulham boss Martin Jol lamented the absence of several key players as his makeshift side suffered a drubbing.

He said: "If you get goals like we conceded today you’re almost playing against yourself. That is what we did after the second goal.

"We had a problem in the midfield and Damien [Duff] was not there, [Mladen] Petric was injured, [Mahamadou] Diarra was injured and they all will come back next week hopefully.

"We said we wanted to put [Liverpool] under pressure and then get support to Berbatov, but we didn’t do that the first half."

The Dutchman also dismissed talk of relegation, adding: "We still have a good cushion with 20 points but if you look at the teams we had before, it’s totally different. I feel that if everyone is back then we’ll be fine."

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