Brendan Rodgers praised the battling qualities of his Liverpool players after watching his side fight their way to a 1-0 victory over Aston Villa on Saturday evening.

The Reds dominated long periods of the first half and duly went ahead through Daniel Sturridge's well-taken 21st minute goal at Villa Park.

However, the hosts fought back and applied heavy pressure in the second period, with Liverpool required to dig deep to grind out the win and ensure they begin 2013-14 with maximum points from their opening two matches.

Rodgers told his post-match press conference: "Tactically we had to play differently today, but I was delighted with the players. Aston Villa have shown in their first couple of games the pace they have in the team and they play on the counter attack.

"In the first half we controlled the ball and the spaces well. In the second half, we had to control the zones, defend half a pitch and deny them the space to run into and obviously that means conceding a bit more of the ball.

"It was great for our concentration. We scored a goal and could have had a few more, in particular in the first half, but overall it's a terrific result. Paul [Lambert] has done a great job here in galvanising a very young and energetic team.

"For us to keep a clean sheet and get a goal was a very good win for us."

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Rodgers added: "Our record last year with our goals wasn't too bad. I feel we've got a lot of creativity in the team, but we can't always be the Harlem Globetrotters! It's about winning and for us, a 1-0 is as good as a 4-0 or 5-0.

"We had real domination in the first half and sometimes you've got to dig deep. I'm very confident we'll end up with a good goals record - but the most important statistic is the win, and we won."

Sturridge's goal was his second of the season so far having put Stoke City to the sword at Anfield last week.

Rodgers was eager to reiterate his belief that the 23-year-old has everything required to become one of the Barclays Premier League's most lethal marksmen.

"Daniel is a player I believe will prove when he is fit and playing that he is one of the top strikers in this division," said the boss. "He has all the attributes - he's super quick, has a wonderful touch, a great mover and you saw his finishing and composure today.

"He just needed an opportunity. I've seen him since he was a young player. He's had a couple of difficult moves, but it was just about providing him with an opportunity and he's really grown into the club since he came in January.

"His goals-to-games record is terrific so far. He just needs to keep working, keep his focus and he'll do very well, I'm sure."

While Sturridge was again the match-winner, Liverpool's defence was required to turn in a resolute display to ensure the visitors claimed the win.

Journalists were eager to get the thoughts of Rodgers on Kolo Toure, who marshalled the threat of three-goal Christian Benteke superbly throughout.

He replied: "We had to control him today. Kolo is a really experienced defender. I needed to replace Jamie Carragher, who had been a brilliant player for Liverpool, and I felt that the team needed someone with experience. Kolo gives you that.

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"He's got a real winning mentality, he's really clever in his marking, he's not rash, he's a top defender and at 32 years of age, he's been brilliant since he came into the club.

"He organises the lines well and he's been excellent.

"Benteke has been brilliant - we've seen that in the first two games - but I thought as a team we nullified the threat.

"He did a great bit of skill in the first half and it looked in all the way, but the 'keeper [Mignolet] has made an outstanding save."

On the rare occasions he did briefly escape the attentions of Liverpool's defence, Benteke twice went close to finding the target for Villa only to be foiled by two excellent saves by Simon Mignolet.

"Simon's very concentrated on being a top, top 'keeper - he's very hungry," said Rodgers.

"Because of the game we want to play, a lot of the time we'll have the ball so they [Liverpool's goalkeepers] won't have too much to do - but when they're asked upon, you want your goalkeeper to be concentrated and able to make the saves. That's what he has done.

"He's a big talent and a real presence in the goal. He works every day and is always analysing his game and everything about his performance with video analysis. He wants to be better.

"In order for us to improve as a club, that's the type of hunger we need here. He's been fantastic."

Having watched his side collect maximum points from their opening two games without conceding, Rodgers couldn't have wished for a better start to the campaign from his charges.

However, while delighted with the early results and performances, the manager was keen to stress there's still a long way to go before the accolades are handed out at the end of 2013-14.

"Since January we've been getting better and improving and it's all credit to the players," he said. "They've been absolutely first class.

"There's a been a lot of speculation and a lot of distractions over the course of the summer with everything that was being written, but you have to give remarkable praise to them that we've stayed focused on our task of making a good start.

"It's very, very early on but two games, two wins and two clean sheets, I can only be happy."

Rodgers concluded: "It's so early. We're just taking each game as it comes. People are asking about Manchester United, but we've got a game on Tuesday night against Notts County in the cup - and we want to do better in cup competitions this season.

"There's a real togetherness throughout the club - from the team right the way through to the youth academy, we're very much one club.  There's no magic formula other than having a vision of how we want to work and everyone pulling together and working their socks off.

"It's a long season, but it's been a good start for us."

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