Rodgers happy with Liverpool's draw at Sunderland
Last Updated: September 15, 2012 9:50pm
Brendan Rodgers: Happy to end a difficult week with a positive result at Sunderland
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers was content with the draw at Sunderland after a difficult week for the club.
Luiz Suarez's 71st-minute equaliser denied the Black Cats victory at the Stadium of Light on a day when the 96 Reds fans who died at Hillsborough 23 years ago were poignantly remembered.
They and their fellow fans were this week cleared of blame for the disaster, with a number of apologies issued ranging from the prime minister to Football Association chairman David Bernstein as a result.
And Rodgers, whose players wore the number 96 on the back of their tracksuits before kick-off, was full of praise for them.
"They have been terrific. It's been a difficult week, of course, as you can imagine for the city and everything surrounding it," said Rodgers.
"Some of the players have been involved in the tragedy in terms of relatives, so it's been a really emotional week.
"But when you sign for Liverpool, that's part of the contract. As a player or manager, you sign an agreement and a contract with the supporters, an emotional one, and that's all part of the journey of Liverpool.
"We wanted to give hope for two reasons: one, for ourselves, because we have shown really good progress over the course of the weeks - we haven't quite got the results, but the performance level at times has been very good.
"And to end the week for the supporters, because it has been very difficult for them.
"It was a good point all round. We will go away from the game really pleased with the performance."
Flags flew at half-mast at the stadium as Sunderland paid their respects to the Hillsborough victims, a move Black Cats boss Martin O'Neill felt was only right.
He said: "It was the least we could have done in terms of our part of proceedings.
"It's been a pretty harrowing 20-odd years, but justice has been done and I think they will draw some comfort from events in the past couple of days."
On the pitch, Sunderland took the lead against the run of play when Steven Fletcher got ahead of his marker to turn Craig Gardner's 29th-minute cross past keeper Pepe Reina for his third goal in two league starts.
Liverpool lost momentum in the immediate aftermath, but fought back strongly after the break and were twice denied an equaliser by the woodwork when Glen Johnson's curling 51st-minute effort came back off the bar and then Steven Gerrard clipped the post on the hour.
However, salvation arrived 19 minutes from time when substitute Titus Bramble was only able to stab Raheem Sterling's cross to Suarez, who fired home to claim a point.
"We wanted to give hope for two reasons: one, for ourselves, because we have shown really good progress over the course of the weeks - we haven't quite got the results, but the performance level at times has been very good"
Rodgers said: "The performance was outstanding, both our creativity and our movement, and there was a really good tempo and rhythm to our game.
"We went behind and we were disappointed with the goal, it was a soft goal from our perspective and it went against the run of play.
"But in the second half, we showed a real reaction and continued what we were doing in the first half, but really upped the tempo and the penetration in our game and by the end of it, I am sure Sunderland were probably happier with the point than ourselves.
"But overall, the performance was outstanding and it's a big credit to the players."