Liverpool came away with a narrow 1-0 victory in their season-opener against Stoke City, as midfielder Philippe Coutinho hit a stunning winner with just four minutes remaining.
Reds manager Brendan Rodgers admitted that he nearly made what would have been a critical mistake.
“I can’t profess to being any sort of genius – it was lucky he was still on. He was very close to being substituted. How close?….Let’s say about 10 minutes,” Rodgers said, according to the Daily Mirror.
The Brazilian international had only recently started training with Liverpool again, as he was given time off following the Copa America tournament.
Coutinho already showed promise last season, as he scored eight goals in 52 appearances for the Reds.
Rodgers revealed his thoughts after being asked whether the 23-year-old midfielder was one of the Premier League’s best.
“I think he already is. He has showed that with his quality. A great turn and he got away from the midfield player and a wonderful shot. An incredible finish,” Rodgers said.
The Reds faced concerns on whether their midfield could perform well, as they have respectively lost Raheem Sterling and Steven Gerrard to Manchester City and the Los Angeles Galaxy.
It remains to be seen whether Coutinho can step up and if newly signed Roberto Firmino can live up to his £29m transfer fee.
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