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Rodgers: We had to be patient

Brendan Rodgers praised the patience and resilience of his Liverpool side after they held on to beat Sunderland 2-1 at Anfield on Wednesday.

The hosts took the lead on Merseyside just before half-time when Steven Gerrard turned home a free-kick, before Daniel Sturridge doubled the advantage shortly after the interval.

Sunderland fought back in the latter stages of the match and brought an air of tension to Anfield when Ki Sung-yueng headed home Adam Johnson's corner.

Gus Poyet's side battled for an equaliser but Liverpool remained stoic in defence and Rodgers was pleased with the way his side responded to the challenge.

"It was always going to be a really difficult game for us," he told Sky Sports.

"I think there is a perception that we're always going to score four, five, six goals every game, but it was always going to be a difficult game for us.

"Especially in the first half when they have five defenders, two holding midfield players and the goalkeeper, so we had a bank of eight, which was hard for us to penetrate."

Sunderland enjoyed a strong start defensively and kept a clean sheet for the first 40 minutes and Rodgers applauded the persistence of his side.

Patient

"We just had to be patient and let our quality show through," he added.

"I thought our work rate and intensity was outstanding and obviously we scored two excellent goals."

Poyet's decision to play a back five, with two holding midfielders, made Sunderland difficult to break down, but Rodgers was delighted to see Liverpool get the opening goal.

"Teams will be like that near the end of the season, especially here at home," he said.

"It's an intimidating block but we just had to find the touches and combinations to work our way through.

"Obviously the first goal is important in any game, but especially here at Anfield."

Gerrard's opener came from a free kick on the edge of the box after Luis Suarez was dragged down by Santiago Vergini but referee Kevin Friend only produced a yellow card, after Wes Brown appeared to be racing back as cover.

"I thought their player should have been sent off," Rodgers claimed.

"We never got the decision there which would have opened up the game even more.

"Sunderland were probably fortunate there but it was a wonderful free-kick and once we get the first goal, our fluency is better from there."

Prolific

Although Suarez was unable to add to his tally, Sturridge continued his goal-scoring form but Rodgers insists it is all about the team cause.

"I'm more worried about a great Liverpool team to be honest," he said.

"The two boys [Suarez and Sturridge] are both special talents in their own right, they're both prolific.

"The most important thing for me is the team and as long as they're both working for the team and contributing off the ball, hopefully they can go on to become greats."

Liverpool had their chances to extend their lead throughout the second half but were made to hold out late on as Sunderland launched a spirited comeback.

"What good teams do, they stay with it," Rodgers said. "Sunderland threw everything at it in that last period.

"But we hung in there and it's a magnificent three points for us.

"It feels like they fans are very proud of their team, they're giving us excellent support.

"It's a great arena for us to work in here at Liverpool and when the supporters get behind us, like they have done all season, it's a massive part of our success."