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Aug 17, 2014

Rodgers: Suarez text Reds 'good luck'

Liverpool hang on after Southampton equalise, led by a 79th-minute winner by Daniel Sturridge.

LIVERPOOL -- Brendan Rodgers revealed that Luis Suarez helped inspire Liverpool to victory in their first competitive game since his departure by sending them a text message wishing his former teammates well.

- Three Points: Liverpool vs. Southampton

Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge scored in Liverpool's 2-1 win over Southampton as the Merseyside club began life without their Uruguayan forward, who joined Barcelona for 75 million pounds in July.

But manager Rodgers, who reiterated that he remains keen to sign a forward to replace Suarez, said Liverpool are grateful that the former Ajax player had stayed in touch.

He said in a news conference: "He sent us a lovely text this morning wishing us all the best, which was a great gesture. He is a friend now of Liverpool.

"He is a great boy but he is gone now. Our ambitions here at Liverpool have to be bigger than one player. We do still want another striker but that will depend on the availability."

Sturridge scored the second-half winner on his 50th appearance for the club, meaning only the 19th-century forward George Allen has struck more often in his first 50 Liverpool games.

He added: "For Daniel, it was just a continuation. I think that is 36 goals in 50 appearances which is the [second] best of any striker in Liverpool's history. That shows the level he is at. He always looks like he will score. It was a poacher's goal."

Sturridge told Sky Sports 1: "It's important as a collective unit that we all provide the goals, but it doesn't matter how many we get so long as we defend well and get the goals we need,''

"The first game is always difficult. The pace was high, we worked hard and controlled things, but when they got a goal it was difficult for us. But we got the result and that's what matters."

Asked if Liverpool were stronger without Suarez, Sturridge added: "I think so, with the players we have brought in. No disrespect to Luis -- he's a great player and he'll be missed -- but we move on from that.

"We have shown we can win games, score goals and defend as well. But with the little man [Sterling] and the other players producing the goods, we'll be okay.''

Rodgers singled out defender Dejan Lovren for praise after he impressed on his debut against his former club following his 20 million-pound move from Southampton.

He explained: "I thought Lovren was excellent. It is always difficult when you play against your old team. If you have nine or 10 things to think about, when you play your old team you have 20. He is a real leader and he was excellent."

Rodgers accepted Liverpool were not at their best but was delighted with the outcome, saying: "We had to grind out a result. Today was a brilliant win for us. It was a tough game. I am really happy with that determination and character. As the season rolls on, we will get better and more fluent."

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SouthamptonSouthampton
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Southampton manager Ronald Koeman was encouraged by his side's display and feels they showed why they will not be in a relegation battle.

He said: "The way we play today I think brings us a lot of confidence. It is between the white lines of the pitch to show the people and first to show ourselves that we have to believe in our quality.

"That was one of the messages we gave the boys. We played an impressive second half and that is how we like to play. If we play like that, I don't think we will struggle."

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