• Premier League

Sterling 'arguably the best young player in Europe'

ESPN staff
April 20, 2014
Raheem Sterling blasted Liverpool into an early lead at Norwich with a spectacular strike © Getty Images

Brendan Rodgers has hailed Raheem Sterling as "arguably the best young player in Europe" after his two goals helped Liverpool to a nervy 3-2 victory over Norwich City.

The result puts Liverpool seven points away from their first ever Premier League title and their first championship since 1990 but it seemed as though they would cruise to victory when Sterling scored after four minutes then set up Luis Suarez for a second in 11 minutes.

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However, Gary Hooper pulled one back for Norwich in the second half, before Sterling struck again with a deflected shot, with Robert Snodgrass's header making it 3-2 and setting up a nerve-racking finish for Rodgers' side.

Sterling's match-winning display had his manager in raptures. "He's arguably the best young player in European football at the moment," said Rodgers. "I have been really, really pleased with his maturity. He's a really humble kid, he's got that inbuilt brain and belief. His first goal was fantastic."

Rodgers also sought to move away from the controversy stoked by Jose Mourinho's comments following Chelsea's 2-1 defeat by Sunderland on Saturday, with the Chelsea manager insinuating that referees have had too much influence in the title race.

"No-one's helped us to win 11 games [in a row, Liverpool's current streak] or score 96 goals," said Rodgers. "We really focus on ourselves. We never get too wrapped up in other managers and their games. It counts for nothing if we don't do our own job. It certainly helps with three games to go, but you have to help yourselves.

"The players give me everything. Eleven games on the spin is an incredible achievement." Rodgers reserved special praise for Suarez, who became the first Liverpool player to score 30 league goals in a season since Ian Rush in 1986-87 with the second goal of the match against Norwich.

"That's 30 goals from 96, so it shows you he's influential," said Rodgers of Suarez. "He's a world-class talent, a real talisman for the team, but the team is about more than one. It's a great achievement and he's got a few goals left in him yet."

Next up for Liverpool is a meeting with Chelsea at Anfield, where a win would officially eliminate Mourinho's side from title contention. "It's going to be a brilliant game, Chelsea coming to Anfield," said Rodgers. "The supporters will be right up for it, the team will look forward to it."

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