LIVERPOOL: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers urged his players to stay calm and embrace the pressure of the Premier League title race after their nervous 2-1 victory over Sunderland.
The Reds took a two-goal lead at Anfield in Wednesday’s match thanks to Steven Gerrard’s free-kick shortly before half-time and Daniel Sturridge’s deflected curling effort moments after the interval.
Liverpool was not at their fluent best, though, and had to endure a tense final 14 minutes after Adam Johnson’s corner was headed home by Ki Sung-yueng from close range.
But Rodgers said that his players will be able to handle the tension of the run-in after they climbed up to second place in the table.
Liverpool are now a point behind leaders Chelsea, having also played 31 games, although Manchester City in third place are two points further back and have two games in hand on those above them.
“We have had a wonderful season. There is still a way to go, but the message is to keep believing,” Rodgers said.
“There were long spells where we were very good. As the season goes on we will embrace the pressure and enjoy it. The pressure will be there, but the pressure is for ourselves.
“We have to keep calm, but it always gets hairy when it gets to 2-1 and it means so much to you.”
Rodgers also claimed that there is not the same expectancy at Liverpool as there is with the two other teams in the title race.
Liverpool has a much smaller squad and has not spent as much on players as their rivals, although the Northern Irishman acknowledged that their recent free-scoring form perhaps added to the tension against Sunderland.