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Thursday January 2, 2014 MYT 3:12:01 PM
Thursday January 2, 2014 MYT 3:12:20 PM
Liverpool's Luis Suarez (R) celebrates with team mate Glen Johnson after scoring a goal against Hull City during their English Premier League soccer match at Anfield in Liverpool, northern England January 1, 2014. REUTERS/Phil Noble
(Reuters) - Liverpool have beaten arch-rivals Manchester United and thumped big spending Tottenham Hotspur this season, but manager Brendan Rodgers believed Wednesday's 2-0 success over Hull City was their best of the campaign.
Daniel Agger's 36th minute header and Luis Suarez's peach of a free-kick five minutes after halftime secured all three points for Rodgers' side, who had lost their last two English Premier League matches 2-1 away at Manchester City and Chelsea.
The victory, against a Hull side that trounced relegation candidates Fulham 6-0 last time out, moved them up to fourth in the table and earned high praise from the Northern Irishman who also welcomed back captain Steven Gerrard after injury.
"I said to the players afterwards that I thought that was our best win of the season," Rodgers told reporters.
"In a lot of games we've been vibrant and had great energy, scored goals and performed well, as well as won games.
"But on the back of the games that we've had over this period and to play with a lot of the same players against a team that won their last Barclays Premier League game 6-0, we knew that we were going to have to tough it out today and dig in.
"We might not have always been at our best, but we got two great goals, created, had other opportunities and actually restricted Hull to no shots on target so I'm very, very pleased with today because it was a great victory for us."
Liverpool moved top of the table at Christmas after they followed up the 5-0 win over Spurs with a 3-1 success at home to Cardiff City but they have fallen six points back of leaders Arsenal after back-to-back away defeats.
Suarez failed to score in the two losses to City and Chelsea but notched his 20th this season on Wednesday to cement his place at the top of leading goalscorers' chart.
Rodgers said the Uruguayan, who signed a new contract last month, almost didn't make the lineup because of injury.
"Today was very much about the team. Luis, of course, will always get the plaudits because he's a world class player," the former Swansea City, Watford and Reading boss said.
"Nine out of 10 players would not have played today. He had a real bad knock on the top of his foot he had from the Chelsea game. I know, having managed players and worked with players, that most players wouldn't have played with what he had today.
"He had a big strapping on it and he put himself out there for the team yet again and that's why he gets the goals that he does, because he's so determined."
While the goals continued to flow for Suarez, Rodgers was also pleased with a sixth clean sheet of the season and first since the sumptuous 5-0 victory over Spurs last month.
Questions were asked of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet after the Belgian was at fault for goals in the City and Chelsea losses but he was untested against Hull.
"We worked tirelessly today to stop them getting anything, there were no shots on target, it is important but the most important thing is the victory and the goals and we got that," Rodgers said.
Next up for Liverpool is an FA Cup third round tie at home to lower league Oldham Athletic on Sunday before they travel to Stoke City in the league hoping to cut the gap on leaders Arsenal.
(Reporting by Patrick Johnston; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)
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