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Lazar Markovic was outstanding against Sunderland, says Rodgers

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Brendan Rodgers has hailed Lazar Markovic's performance against Sunderland and dubbed the youngster a "top talent."

Improvement

Markovic joined the Reds this summer for £20 million from Benfica, but struggled to justify the hefty price-tag early on in his Anfield career.

The Serbian internation put in a string of poor performances and was over-looked by the Liverpool boss for a short while.

After a spell on the side-lines, Markovic was brought on against FC Basel in the Champions League and impressed during his cameo before he was sent-off.

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Since, the 20-year-old has impressed against Arsenal and Bournemouth and put his best performance in for the Merseyside club on Saturday when grabbing his first Premier League goal to give Liverpool a 1-0 win in the North East.

Not just his goal, but his overall performance was superb and Rodgers believes the winger thrived both going forward and defending.

"I've been delighted with Lazar," the Northern Irishman told Liverpoolfc.com. "We brought him here because he's a top talent.

"It's never easy for players, especially the young players who are coming into the team and into the country. So he's adapting very, very well.

"His strike that hit the crossbar was incredible technique and he scored his goal. But I thought overall his ability to press the ball when we didn't have it was very good.

"He was strong, he was physically hard to beat. And then when we had the ball, we asked him to be creative and I thought he was outstanding."

Complete Performance

Markovic was certainly at the races in the North East and was voted man of the match for his effort.

From the first whistle, he looked to influence the game by running at the Black Cats' defence and inflict his pace.

In the third minute, he latched onto Philippe Coutinho's excellent through ball and looked destined to score but was harshly brought down by Wes Brown. Everyone in the Stadium Of Light expected a Liverpool penalty to be awarded, however referee Craig Pawson waved play on.

The ex-Partizan man soon made amends for Pawson's poor decision by starting and finishing the Reds' only goal of the game.

Markovic picked the ball up on the half-way line and drove at the Sunderland back-four, with his pace causing Brown and John O'Shea to back off. This allowed free up space for Steven Gerrard and Fabio Borini and then he continued his run into the home side's box, gambling the ball would fall to him - this paid off when Borini was fouled and landed at Markovic's feet who poked his effort through the legs of Costel Pantillimon.

He continued his good form throughout the game, working hard down the right-flank, in the first-half particularly, to offer his services going on the attack and when he was called upon at the back.

Momentum

Markovic seems a player who must have confidence to succeed and his recent performances suggest that.

Liverpool have a big few months ahead of them. Rodgers' side are pushing for a Champions League finish come May and sit in just eighth place, five points behind Manchester United in fourth.

A piece of silverware would also be welcomed by Kopites, who have been denied a trophy since they won the League Cup in 2012.

The Reds face Chelsea in the League Cup semi-final later this month and victory over two legs would see Rodgers take Liverpool to Wembley for the first time since he took the helm at Anfield.

Captain Gerrard would love nothing more than to win the FA Cup, with the final sharing the same date as his 35th birthday. It would likely be his last game for his boyhood club and what a swansong it would be.

Liverpool are also in the Europa League after finishing third in Group B of the Champions League and that could mean a lot more games.

We've seen how much Raheem Sterling has been playing this season and Rodgers was so scared of the England international becoming "burned out" he gave him permission to take a mid-season holiday.

Now Markovic has found fifth gear at Anfield, it could mean he will be playing a lot more games. Given how well he's been performing at wingback - a difficult position to play - the youngster could be a key player for Liverpool for the rest of the campaign and beyond.

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Topics:
Premier League
Liverpool
Football

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