Liverpool struggle past Bournemouth in FA Cup
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers praised the character of his Liverpool side after they beat second tier Bournemouth 2-0 in their FA Cup fourth tie at Dean Court today.
Goals from Victor Moses and Daniel Sturridge in each half secured a place in the last 16 for Liverpool, but it was never plain sailing for the seven-times winners.
Championship side Bournemouth outplayed their Premier League counterparts for long periods of the first half, and Rodgers admitted it was a game Liverpool might have lost a year ago.
"Bournemouth are a very good side. They were excellent today but I thought the character was good in our team," Rodgers, who was highly critical of his side last year when they were knocked out by third tier Oldham Athletic, told reporters.
"There are lots of games recently that we might have lost a year ago. We're really improving not only in our football but also the character in the team.
Thirty years ago Bournemouth knocked out then holders Manchester United at Dean Court when Harry Redknapp was cutting his teeth in management.
There were times when the home side appeared they might repeat that feat, with striker Lewis Grabban and midfielder Harry Arter both going close in the first half.
Liverpool showed their superior quality in the final third though when Moses scored with a low shot from the edge of the area in the 26th minute.
Sturridge made it 2-0 on the hour, slotting into the corner of the net after a Luis Suarez through ball.
"We didn't work hard enough in the first half," Rodgers said. Once we organised that at half time we were much better in the second half."
"I'm seeing a lot of good traits in the squad. That mentality to up the tempo in the second half was very important."
Liverpool fielded a full strength team for the fourth round tie, with Suarez, Steven Gerrard and Phillipe Coutinho all starting, and Rodgers explained that he wanted to pay respect to the FA Cup with his selection.
"We're a very thin squad with a number of injuries but the tradition in the FA Cup with Liverpool is huge," he said.
"We want to get to the final and win it if we can. That's why we came with a strong side."