Date: 10th August 2015 at 6:36pm
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Kop boss Brendan Rodgers was delighted with the defensive display that set the platform for an eye-catching late winner…

Liverpool’s 2015-16 campaign is up and running with a hard-earned 1-0 victory over Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.

The Merseysiders were far from fluid in their play but the three points were impressive nonetheless, especially against the backdrop of their last Barclays Premier League fixture which ended in a 6-1 defeat on the same ground.

This time around the revamped Reds were far more solid at the back, despite the defence featuring two debutants in Nathaniel Clyne and Joe Gomez, before producing the only goal of the game through Philippe Coutinho four minutes from time.

“Defensively we were strong,” remarked Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers at his post-match press conference. “We knew we would have to defend well, and then we know we have the quality to go and win the game.

“I was really pleased with the performance; it certainly feels better than 11 weeks ago!

“The game in May was a one-off, I said that beforehand. It was a unique game, and did not epitomise the team that I have had during three years here.

“But it still happened, and you have to be better and you have to be more resolute. That was the focus of our work over the course of pre-season – making sure our defensive organisation and our pressing as a team was better, because we know we have the quality.

“It was a very good victory for us.”

Of Coutinho’s match-winning strike, Rodgers remarked: “He’s only been back training for three weeks as well, so he’s not at the top of his fitness, but it was a great turn and a wonderful strike to win the game.

“I was very close to taking him off! We felt that towards the end of the game, Glen Johnson was starting to get a bit of space on that side.

“We were looking at making a change; he was going to come off and we were going to put Danny Ings on. But when you score a goal, your mind changes! I can’t profess to be any kind of genius, but I’m glad I kept him on!”

In total five summer signings – Clyne, Gomez, James Milner, Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino – made their competitive Liverpool bows during the contest, while Adam Bogdan and Ings were amongst the unused substitutes.

Speaking about the new additions, Rodgers added: “The players that we have brought in have that character and personality.

“You look at Benteke up front – people talk about him only being able to play off a long ball, but you saw his quality today. He was outstanding today having only been in the door a couple of weeks.

“Young Joe Gomez, at 18 years of age, playing against a really good player in Jon Walters. I thought he handled it, and as the game wore on he got stronger.

“Nathaniel Clyne since he came in has been outstanding, James Milner has that experience, and the others have all settled in really well.

“The team has that personality, but they’ve still got to show it in the game, and they did that.”

Liverpool are next in action on Monday August 17 when newly promoted AFC Bournemouth visit Anfield.

Click here to read our match report of the game

Click here to see comprehensive match stats

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