Stoke City 3 Liverpool 5: Brendan Rodgers hails returning Daniel Sturridge after goalscoring comeback from injury

England striker netted the final goal on his return from nearly seven weeks out

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was delighted to see the strike partnership owner John Henry described as a “dynamic duo” reunited and in full swing.

Daniel Sturridge returned from a seven-week absence to score one and set up the second of Luis Suarez's two goals in a madcap 5-3 win at Stoke - the Reds' first in the league for just over 29 years.

Sturridge and Suarez average a goal every 56 minutes when playing together so it was no wonder Henry tweeted "What a dynamic duo!" following Sturridge's introduction midway through the second half which helped lift Liverpool back into the top four.

"Daniel has pace and power on the counter-attack and both combined very well," Rodgers said.

"Both are outstanding talents - you can see that from their link-up for both Luis' second goal and Dan's movement for Luis to play him in (for the final goal) was exceptional in such a short space.

"Sturridge showed great skill and awareness to get up and have two touches to finish the game (after Jack Butland had brilliantly stopped his initial effort).

"To get the fifth goal here really shows that threat we have."

While victory at the Britannia Stadium was a notable one it was not without its flaws.

Having gone 2-0 up through Ryan Shawcross' own goal and Suarez's 21st of the season, two former Reds Peter Crouch and Charlie Adam levelled things just before half-time.

The pivotal moment came early in the second half when Marc Wilson was judged to have brought down Raheem Sterling allowing Steven Gerrard to restore Liverpool's lead from the spot.

Sturridge's emergence off the bench for his first appearance since November 23 saw him set up Suarez before - after Jon Walters had pulled one back - the Uruguayan repaid the favour with an inch-perfect cross from which the England international scored at the second attempt after a brilliant save from Jack Butland.

Stoke manager Mark Hughes felt referee Anthony Taylor "bought" Sterling's attempt to win the penalty.

"Soft, easy - any adjective you like really. I don't know whether that penalty would've been given at the other end," he said.

"The reaction of the player himself, he immediately looks towards the referee, is a give-away and the fact there are about 3,000 Liverpool fans behind that goal as well reacting to it means unfortunately the referee has bought it and it's a poor decision.

"There was a hint of handball (by Sterling) and he has been given the benefit of the doubt.

"I thought the momentum was with us and almost immediately the game is taken away from us once again."

Rodgers rejected suggestions Sterling had dived and could get himself a reputation.

"I don't think he's in that bracket. He is a fearsome competitor and he is not that type," he added.

"Goodness me he is a young boy who gets kicked left, right and centre and we got good fortune.

"He has had many decisions gone against him in his young career, ones where he has had dead-cert penalties.

"The defender doesn't make contact with the ball but does the man and Raheem is running at such speed.

"I don't think he has gone down easily. Contact was minimal but the pace he is going at puts him over."

PA

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