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 By PA Sport
Jan 18, 2014

Brendan Rodgers defends Luis Suarez

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers defended striker Luis Suarez against accusations of diving during the 2-2 draw with Aston Villa.

Luis Suarez goes down under a challenge from Brad Guzan to give Liverpool a penalty -- and the chance to earn a point.
Luis Suarez goes down in the area to win the penalty that secured a point for Liverpool.

Trailing to goals from Andreas Weimann and Christian Benteke inside 36 minutes, Reds striker Daniel Sturridge pulled one back on the stroke of half-time.

The contentious penalty came just after the break when Suarez was adjudged to have been brought down by goalkeeper Brad Guzan and Steven Gerrard equalised.

“I thought we should have had a penalty in the first half when [Leandro] Bacuna handles the ball,” Rodgers said. “The second I thought was a penalty. Luis has taken it up to the keeper and, once he has touched it around him, his body makes contact with Luis.”

Hughes: Forget the penalty, admire the performance

Referring to Villa boss Paul Lambert, he added: “Obviously from Paul's perspective he will think it has been harsh.”

On his adventurous team selection, which saw defensive midfielder Lucas Leiva dropped to accommodate Sturridge, Rodgers added: “I go with my gut feeling. I thought it was an offensive team.

“I have played that before. If you want to blame me, blame me. It is a good point. I don't think we were anywhere near our level in the first half, give credit to Villa for that. The front two was a real threat for us and tactically we had to change it.”

Lambert, meanwhile, did not believe it was a penalty but remained diplomatic.

He said: “Brad has pulled his arms away. It is hard for the referee to judge it. He has a split-second decision to make it but I think Brad used his experience to pull his arms away and then you get punished.”

Asked whether he thought Suarez had dived, he added: “I'll let you be the judge of that. I am not being critical of anyone. I'm not getting caught into that, the guy is a world-class player.”

Of his team's performance, Lambert said: “I thought we were excellent. I thought Ron Vlaar was excellent. Benteke looked back to himself but we lost Gabby [Agbonlahor] at a vital time and he was unplayable.

“I always thought we looked a threat on the counter-attack. We might have sneaked it but I don't think anyone could begrudge us a point.”

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