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Rodgers praise for Sturridge
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes Daniel Sturridge has all the qualities to be one of the best strikers in the Barclays Premier League.
Sturridge showed his class with a moment of brilliance midway through the first half to secure a 1-0 victory at Aston Villa, receiving Jose Enrique's left-wing pass before dancing past two defenders, rounding Brad Guzan and transferring his balance to poke home with his left foot.
It is the second successive weekend in which the marksman has proved Liverpool's match-winner having fired the Merseyside outfit to a 1-0 opening-day win over Stoke.
Sturridge, fully fit after recovering from ankle injury sustained on England duty in May, found the net 11 times for the Reds over the second half of last season following his January move from Chelsea.
And, after two goals in two games this term in the absence of the suspended Luis Suarez, Rodgers feels Sturridge has what it takes to rank among the finest in England's top flight.
"Daniel is a player who I believe can prove when he's fit and playing that's he's one of the top strikers in the Premier League," he said.
"He's got all the attributes - he's super quick, got a wonderful touch, great movement and you see his finish and composure (for the goal).
"He just needed an opportunity, I'd seen enough of him, he's a young player who's had a couple of difficult moves but it's just about providing him with the opportunity and he's really grown into the club since arriving in January.
"His goals-to-game ratio is terrific so far and he just needs to keep working and keep his focus and he'll do very well, I'm sure."
A sharper Liverpool bossed the opening 40 minutes but a late flurry from the hosts at the end of the first half set the tone for a second period which Villa dominated and could well have taken a share of the spoils.
Liverpool's new goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, who saved a late penalty against Stoke, denied the in-form Christian Benteke with a superb one-handed stop in the 86th minute.
"I was delighted with the players," Rodgers added.
"First half we controlled the ball well, controlled the spaces well, in the second half we had to control the zones and defend half a pitch, denying them the space to run into.
"We scored a goal and could have had a few more, particularly in the first half, but overall it's a terrific result.
"It's about winning and, for us, one-nil is as good as four or five-nil."
Despite defeat it is a promising start to the season for a youthful Villa side who battled against relegation last season, but have already shown huge progress this term.
It was Villa's third game in the space of a gruelling opening eight days of the new season, following victory at Arsenal and a midweek defeat at Chelsea.
Boss Lambert was left to rue the demanding start but admitted he would have taken three points from those tough three matches beforehand.
"I knew it would have an adverse reaction from Saturday-Wednesday's games, I knew that, it was important we tried to hang in when Liverpool dominated for 30 minutes," the Scot said.
"It wasn't until about the last 10 minutes of the first half we started to get our second wind. And then in the second half I thought we were excellent, we gave it a go.
"We've played probably three teams I expect to be in that top group and we have given every one a game - we've won one and just got beaten in two.
"But the progress is there for everyone to see, and that's what I'm pleased about."
Lambert added: "It's a big, big ask that, away to Arsenal and Chelsea and then Liverpool at home. That's a big turnaround in a week. I've got nothing but praise.
"If someone had said to me at the beginning (of the season) we'd take three points from the first three games I'd have bitten your hand off - and the real bonus is the way we've played."