A stunning goal from Brazilian central midfielder Philippe Coutinho lifted Liverpool to a 1-0 road victory over Stoke City in the season opener on Sunday at the Britannia Stadium. The goal also temporarily relieved manager Brendan Rodgers from serious criticism after what was a rather uninspiring effort by the Reds against a mid-table club.
Coutinho's goal arrived in the 86th minute, with a gorgeous right-footed shot from beyond the box that goalkeeper Jack Butland could do nothing about. For much of the match, it seemed as though the Potters were the more likely team to score.
With Liverpool spending roughly £77.5 million this summer, the pressure has been on Rodgers to reverse the club's fortunes, and it came at a good time considering the other Premier League results this weekend. Arsenal lost at home to West Ham, Chelsea managed only a draw against Swansea City, and Manchester United escaped with a victory over Tottenham courtesy of an own goal.
The victory affords Rodgers an opportunity to move forward despite his squad's lackluster performance. After the match, he conceded that he was about to bring Coutinho off before the goal. Rodgers also added that he was pleased with the defensive performance.
"I think we showed a different type of will and different character than obviously the last time we were here," Rodgers said. "We defended really, really well, and good organization. And we knew that if we could hold the game and stay tight, then obviously as the game wore on our quality can come through.
"It worked perfectly for us and I thought the players were outstanding. ... And it was a wonderful, wonderful goal."