Stoke City 3 Liverpool 5: Steven Gerrard hails 'big' win after thriller

Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge appear to have picked up where they left off

Steven Gerrard hailed a “big” win for Liverpool as the Reds defeated Stoke 5-3 at the Britannia Stadium to climb into the top four in the Barclays Premier League.

Gerrard stroked home a second-half penalty while Luis Suarez added a double to take his league tally for the season to 22 from just 16 appearances.

Daniel Sturridge, back from injury, was also on target as Liverpool recorded their first league victory at Stoke in more than 29 years, and Gerrard was in no doubt of the importance of the result.

"It's big. Our record against Stoke in the league is poor away from home and we wanted to put that right today. I thought we showed tremendous character," the England captain told Sky Sports.

"It's results like this we need if we want to finish in the top four."

The final scoreline by no means tells the whole story, with Liverpool guilty of squander a 2-0 lead.

Goals by Liverpool old boys Peter Crouch and Charlie Adam had the hosts level at the break, but the Reds went back in front through Gerrard's penalty before pulling away for the win.

"The first 40 minutes we controlled the game," Gerrard added. "It was very comfortable then we went a bit soft, made a couple of mistakes, and it became a real tough game from then on."

Gerrard was operating in a deep-lying position alongside Lucas in the Liverpool midfield and admitted he was still adjusting to his more withdrawn role.

"It's something we've been working on in the week and the manager's told me moving forward I'll play this role more," he said.

"It's going to take a little bit of time to get used to, but I've played it many times for England and a few times for Liverpool in the early days, so I'll be comfortable in there."

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers added: "I thought they were brilliant. To come here and get five goals and put in the work and the effort is fantastic. I'm delighted for the players.

"We went out in the second half and we went again. That shows the character of the team."

Rodgers conceded the penalty that got Liverpool back in front - awarded after Raheem Sterling went down under light contact from Marc Wilson - was a bit of a gift from the referee.

"I thought it was soft," he said. "It was one where, if you're the attacking team, you're happy to get it.

"I'd call that a 'Spanish' penalty, one where the attacker goes into the defender - the defender obviously doesn't get the ball - but the contact puts him over.

"So we took that, that gave us the momentum in the game at 3-2 and probably from that we were able to kick on."

Stoke manager Mark Hughes was unhappy to be on the receiving end of the penalty award.

"In terms of our performance I thought we were excellent," he said. "Things have gone against us, I thought the penalty decision was a poor one. I don't think it merited a penalty.

"The lad's gone over too easily and the referee's bought that. So we're disappointed that goes against us.

"[But] we just gave ourselves too much to do today unfortunately. Defensively we made too many errors."