Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Lucas: SAS partnership getting better

Daniel Sturridge scored the goal of the game at Anfield on Saturday

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva believes the partnership of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge is improving with each match - and points to the quality of the goals they score as proof.

Suarez grabbed his first Anfield hat-trick, and his fourth in total for the club, in the 4-1 win over West Brom although there was an argument for Sturridge netting the best effort with a delightful delicate chip to put the result beyond doubt.

The pair already have 14 league goals between them this season - and Suarez was suspended for the first five games of the campaign.

However, Lucas believes that is only the beginning of something special.

"The link between Luis and Daniel is only getting better," he said.

"Last year they didn't have a chance to play many games (Sturridge arrived in January but injuries and suspension had an impact on their partnership) so this season we can see they are scoring goals.

"When you have two strikers in the good form they are we always have to make sure we defend well because we will create chances and score goals."

Suarez claimed all the headlines with his treble, which began with an individual run and nutmeg on Jonas Olsson and was followed by a powerful 17-yard header before nodding in a Steven Gerrard free-kick, but Lucas felt Sturridge's strike surpassed them all.

"I think Daniel scored the best goal to be honest," added the Brazil midfielder.

"Luis's header was a great header and the first goal was typical Luis - the 'meg' and the good finish but I think overall it was four fantastic goals.

"It's just great to see them linking well and we hope this will continue during the season."

Liverpool were coasting at 3-0 before James Morrison's 66th-minute penalty gave the visitors hope and they enjoyed a good 10-minute spell before Sturridge finished them off in style.

"We are disappointed we conceded a goal - I've seen it again and I don't think it was a penalty," said Lucas.

"But I think we got back and Daniel killed the game very well. For 75 minutes we were very consistent, pressing and playing good football.

"I think it was a great performance overall, especially when you play at home and get an early goal."

While the forwards rightly received most of the praise manager Brendan Rodgers felt Lucas also deserved some credit.

The 26-year-old missed last week's draw at Newcastle after the birth of his second child, daughter Valentina, but slotted straight back in.

His role as defensive linchpin often goes unrewarded but Rodgers knows having the Brazilian in a holding role gives his more creative players much more freedom.

"When you play that system you are looking for someone to have that controlling role because that allows the two advanced (midfield) players to go forward more," said the Reds boss.

"Lucas came in and filled that really well. I thought he was excellent - as was Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard.

"They were always available for the ball, it was very good.

"It was the best 90 minutes of the season. I thought we looked a very good team.

"The confidence was good, how we pressed the ball was good and the front two are as good as it gets and the support behind that is very good - and we have players like (Philippe) Coutinho to come back next weekend."

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