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Jan 7, 2013

Rodgers: Let's enjoy brilliance of Suarez

Brendan Rodgers has urged football fans to enjoy watching striker Luis Suarez, describing the Uruguayan as "a brilliant talent".

• Gallagher: Ref got Suarez call right
• Walsh: Suarez unfairly plays villain
• Mansfield chief: Replay was stolen
• Rodgers defends Suarez

As the controversy over Suarez's goal for Liverpool in the FA Cup tie at Mansfield continued, Anfield manager Rodgers said fans should appreciate the forward's talent.

Suarez controlled the ball with his hand before scoring to put Liverpool 2-0 in front at Field Mill, with the Merseysiders eventually going through to the fourth round with a 2-1 win.

The incident was missed by referee Andre Marriner and his assistants and although Rodgers admitted it was handball, he was adamant that Suarez had not intended what happened.

The manager said he believed Suarez's reputation for being involved in controversy had played a major role in the reaction to the goal and added: "He has had seven yellow cards this year, but he hasn't warranted all seven.

"He is a wonderful professional. I think in this country we need to enjoy it whilst he is here, because he is a brilliant talent.

"He is a good man as well, and he is someone who wants to come in and work. He wanted to start yesterday's game, even though he has really been my only striker for the last six months.

"Yesterday was a game he was up for because it was street football for him, he enjoys that type of game.

"But I can only talk about his talents. I always try to educate the players with regard to every aspect of their life. As I've said, he's very receptive and we go forward with him."

Mansfield striker Matt Green, who pulled a goal back for the home side with just over ten minutes remaining, said: "Obviously as a goalscorer, you don't care how it goes in the net.

"I'm not saying that's the right way to put it in the net, but you claim anything as a striker."

Writing in the Telegraph, former Liverpool defender Alan Hansen said Suarez had done "exactly what anyone who has ever played professional football - and anyone who plays in the future - would do in the same situation".

"You can tell from Suarez's reaction he expected it to be disallowed and when it wasn't, he has decided to get on with the game. It is not like he ran off celebrating," Hansen wrote.

"There will be outrage about it, firstly, because it was a high-profile incident in a high-profile game. Second, because it is Suarez. He has become an easy target.

"I can imagine if other players were at the centre of such a controversy it would be simply shrugged off as a stroke of luck - or bad luck so far as Mansfield are concerned - and the debate would not focus so much on the identity of the goalscorer."

And in a column for Yahoo!Eurosport, ex-Anfield midfielder Jan Molby echoed those sentiments, saying reaction to the incident "has been well over the top".

"He has brought some of it on himself - we all know his past - but you should try to treat every incident separately, and on Sunday I think he was vilified unfairly," Molby wrote. "It has caused an almighty fury in some quarters and I don't think that is right. You can't even be sure if it was deliberate."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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