Rodgers almost yanked Coutinho

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits he had been considering substituting Philippe Coutinho before the midfielder's 30-yard stunner earned a 1-0 win over Stoke City on Sunday.

The two sides looked to be heading towards a goalless start to the new Premier League season following a dour opening 85 minutes at the Britannia Stadium, before Coutinho pulled one out of the very top drawer with a sublime curling effort which went in off the fingertips of Jack Butland.

And, speaking after the smash-and-grab victory, Rodgers revealed: "How close was I to taking him (Coutinho) off? Very. I can't profess to be a genius."

The game was, however, a great improvement for Rodgers compared to the corresponding fixture last term, where the Reds suffered a 6-1 hammering in what was Steven Gerrard's last game as a Liverpool player.

"It was a good performance after a long pre-season, to get the win after what happened here last season was even more important," the boss told Daily Star Sunday.

"We showed great character and determination as a team and our quality came through.

"Coutinho did very well, he has only been back three weeks but he is at a good level of fitness.

"He did a wonderful spin to get away from Glen Whelan and then got the shot off which beat Jack Butland who is an excellent keeper.

"It was a wonderful goal to cap a really good performance."