Brendan Rodgers hails Jordan Henderson as Liverpool win at Rovers
BLACKBURN -- Brendan Rodgers praised Jordan Henderson for producing a captain's performance after dashing back from the birth of his second child to help Liverpool reach the FA Cup semifinals with a 1-0 victory over Blackburn.
Stand-in skipper Henderson endured a sleepless night as he became a father again and then set up Philippe Coutinho's decider in the quarterfinal replay win over Championship club Blackburn.
And Rodgers said Henderson, who led Liverpool in the absence of the banned Steven Gerrard, was desperate to play at Ewood Park.
He said in a news conference: "Jordan Henderson had to go back from the hotel because his wife had their second child during the night and hadn't slept much and has travelled all the way back again and has put in a performance like he did tonight, a real captain's performance.
"Some players maybe would have [missed the game]. He said to me: 'Boss, as soon as the baby is out I will be coming back.' There was a car waiting. He was back, he had his lunch and played like that."
Rodgers was delighted with the way his players responded after suffering back-to-back defeats to Manchester United and Arsenal.
He switched to 4-3-3 and was particularly pleased with the way two men he brought into his defence responded.
"Dejan Lovren and Glen Johnson were outstanding," he added. "Joe Allen was magnificent and Raheem Sterling was absolutely incredible.
"We were heavily criticised and disappointed in both games we played because of the standards we had set. We knew this was vital for us and the supporters. This was for them to give them the hope we were still progressing, but you have to win matches and trophies to do that."
Liverpool's players had a meeting on Sunday and Rodgers, who had denied they were crisis talks, feels it was vital to help them recover after the 4-1 loss to Arsenal.
"I am a coach who speaks openly with players," he said. "Part of the coaching philosophy for me is about reviewing and reflecting performance.
"It is something we have done all year, when we were winning games, that analysis. That provides us with the lever to go forward: how can we be better; how can we improve?
"Because we lost a couple of games a lot was made of that meeting but that review is very important for how we want to work. Unless you review and analyse how can you be better? I think you see the outcome.
"The players were very focused. We made points on how we improve our performance level, we agree on it and commit to it and you see tonight the shape of the team, we reintroduced 4-3-3 and got into the final third very well."
Liverpool will assess centre-back Mamadou Sakho, who was substituted, with tightness in his hamstring, on Thursday, while striker Daniel Sturridge came off with a similar problem.