Brendan Rodgers: Raheem Sterling is best young player in Europe
Teenage sensation grabs two in victory over Norwich
Liverpool’s Luis Suarez scores past Norwich City goalkeeper John Ruddy during their Premier League soccer match at Carrow Road. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers hailed the performance of teenager Raheem Sterling after his two goals helped the Reds beat Norwich City 3-2 at Carrow Road to go five points clear at the top of the Premier League.
“He is the best young player in European football at the moment,” Rodgers said.
“At 19 years of age you don’t see anyone better. His intelligence with the ball, his movement and he’s scoring goals. His first goal was a wonderful strike. He’s just shifted it, got his shot off; to beat a goalkeeper of John Ruddy’s quality shows you the quality of the strike.
“His pass for Luis’s goal was like a top midfield player, so there’s an assist, and his position for the counter attack when he broke away and obviously gets a bit of luck on the deflection but his overall performance he’s shown so much maturity.”
The Northern Irishman also revealed how he inspired his side ahead of kick-off following an emotional week for the club.
He said: “We’ve come off the back of the week where we held the memorial service for Hillsborough. We used Margaret Aspinall (chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group), one of her quotes she made on the day as a real motivation for us going into the game and real encouragement for us and the players are helping themselves.
“They’re winning games and they are very hungry. We have qualified for the Champions League. That was the objective and we can finish no lower than third which is an incredible achievement for the team and the squad.”
Qualification for the Champions League and winning the Premier League title are within Liverpool’s grasp, and the Reds boss also said they want to hit another target.
He said: “We have a performance goal. We want to reach 100 plus goals and we’re now on 96. There are only three teams in the history of the Premier League that have got 100 goals or more. We want to try and push for that in the final three games.”
Luis Suarez got the other goal at Carrow Road, his his 30th of the season, but said his only focus is on title glory.
“Of course we are happy because those three points are important for us and we worked really hard today against Norwich. Every time they are difficult (to play) and they are fighting not to go down and we know that.” said Suarez, who became the first Liverpool player to score 30 goals in one season since Ian Rush achieved the feat in 1987.
“(The 30 goals) is important for myself but my target is to help the team every time. We are on the top now and we enjoy that.”
However, with Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea up next at Anfield, the Uruguay international is not popping the champagne corks to celebrate just yet.
He added: “In football you never know what will happen. We will keep calm and focus on the next game against Chelsea.”