Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers described his players as “incredible” after they boosted their Champions League qualification aspirations with a 2-1 Premier League win against Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday.
The Merseysiders went into the noon kick-off against Manuel Pellegrini’s second-placed reigning champions on the back of an energy-sapping Europa League round of 32 second leg exit at the hands of Turkish side Besiktas at the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul on Thursday.
Liverpool endured extra-time and a penalty shoot-out – which they lost 5-4 – before flying back to England where they arrived in the early hours of Friday morning.
Rodgers revealed that the players were given that day off to recover and returned for training on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s crucial game.
But Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho scored either side of an Edin Dzeko equaliser in what was described as a “relentless” performance by their manager.
Rodgers added: “To restrict them [Manchester City] to one shot on target – and that’s a top team – I thought the players were incredible today, so they deserve all the praise that they get for the performance and the result.”
The result means Liverpool have gone 11 league games unbeaten and are now sitting in fifth position in the table – two points behind Manchester United.
Rodgers claims a top-four finish would be a “bigger achievement” than last season’s second place given the poor start they made to this term.
He said: “We have just got to keep the focus and keep our concentration, and keep working like we did today, and if we keep doing that, we can achieve what we want to.”
Liverpool are 1.38 to win their next game against struggling Burnley at Anfield on Wednesday, while the Clarets are 7.81 and the draw is 4.60.