NEW YORK: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was delighted with his side’s positive response to tactical changes after they twice rallied against Manchester City to edge out the Premier League champions in a New York friendly on Wednesday night.
Stevan Jovetic gave City, who finished two points ahead of Liverpool last season, the lead twice in the second half but the Reds responded with goals from Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling before winning the penalty shootout 3-1.
Rodgers was “pleased” with the victory, which kept Liverpool on course for a possible final against bitter rivals Manchester United in Miami next week, provided they beat AC Milan in their last group game of the eight-team tournament on Saturday.
“It was a great game for us. Manchester City are a wonderful team and will go close in the Premier League again this year,” the 41-year-old Northern Irishman told reporters after the match at the Yankee Stadium.
“What has been the trademark of this team over the past 18 months has been the character. We showed it again tonight to keep going and get ourselves back in the game.
“We played with a number of different formations. Pre-season is about the physical fitness of the players and re-introducing that tactical element of the game.
“Credit to the players for coping with those changes in tactics and systems. Overall I was pleased.”
The coach had special praise for Henderson, who netted five times for Liverpool last season, and said he expected more goals from the 24-year-old Englishman.
“That’s the objective for Jordan this season,” Rodgers said. “He has the qualities as he showed with the finish for the equaliser. He does that day-in day-out in training.
“I expect him to get upwards of 10 goals this season. He has the qualities and tactical nous to arrive in places to do that.”
City boss Manuel Pellegrini was also satisfied with his side’s performance in front of a capacity crowd of more than 49,000.
“I’m very happy because it was a good, competitive game and useful for both teams,” the Chilean said. “We played well for the first 45 minutes when 0-0 didn’t reflect exactly what happened.
“Then we played well in the second half, though Joe Hart made some very good saves and we missed some good chances especially when the score was 2-1. Then we had the penalties...”
Pellegrini tipped Montenegrin forward Jovetic, who has scored four goals in two matches on the tour, for a stellar season.
“I have said before that Stevan is a very important player for us and he proved again what an asset he can be,” the coach said. “He had a number of different injuries last season but now he is fully fit.
“I’m sure if he continues in this way he will show why he is here. If he’s fit all the year he will be a very important player for us.”