Liverpool’s Brendan Rodgers says referee was “excellent,” slams Saints for Lallana, Lambert snub

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SOUTHAMPTON — Brendan Rodgers was a happy man on Sunday after his side won 2-0 at St. Mary’s and remain 10 games unbeaten in the Premier League.

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Rodgers’ side were under plenty of pressure at Southampton and could have conceded no fewer than four penalties in the first half but held their nerve to record a fifth-straight clean sheet away from home and move within three points of third place in the PL table. The Reds are on a roll.

[ RELATED: Saints unhappy with ref ]

Ronald Koeman, plus Southampton’s players and fans, were not happy with the display of referee Kevin Friend after plenty of penalty shouts were waved away. As for Rodgers, he thought Friend was “excellent” on Sunday…

“The first one wasn’t [a penalty],” Rodgers said. “I think the player has fell over far too easy in the box if you see it again. He has had slight contact with Emre Can and fell over. Definitely wasn’t a pen. I can see where there was a claim with the one with Joe [Allen] doesn’t get contact with the ball. Maybe the referee sees the player leaning on Joe Allen and knock him over before he made contact… Sometimes you get them and sometimes you don’t. I thought the referee was excellent, obviously with the pressure he was under from from the crowd and they were 1-0 down. It makes them big decisions. I thought in the main he got them right… Overall I thought he was very good.”

[ RELATED: Lallana opens up to SportsWorld on Liverpool move ]

After talking about the referee, Rodgers then moved onto lambasting Southampton Football Club for not honoring their former captain Adam Lallana and striker Rickie Lambert, who were both returning along with Dejan Lovren to the club they left last summer.

Lallana and Lovren were booed throughout (although veteran striker Lambert was given a heroes return after a less than acrimonious departure) and Rodgers was “disappointed” with the way for Saints’ skipper Lallana was treated by the fans… and the editor of Saints’ game day magazine.

“I was a wee bit disappointed for Adam Lallana, I’ve got to say. Adam was the captain here for two years and has given an incredible service to Southampton and I know for a fact that he could have left here a number of times and didn’t. To get the reception that he got was disappointing,” Rodgers said. “I looked in the match programme and there was nothing relevant to his time here and all the time he has been here since he was a boy. The likes of Rickie Lambert, an incredible servant here and got the club to where it is today.

“There was no mention of him. Which I thought was sad. Those two guys gave their heart and souls to Southampton and are big supporters of this club. They have moved to one of the biggest clubs in the world, so it’s hard to deny a player that. I thought they would have been given more here today. At other clubs they will always have something in there of appreciation for their former players, but there was absolutely nothing in there on these two guys. For me that’s a bit sad. I was thinking of them today when I was looking at the programme before the game. Everything they have given this club to get them to where they are today and there wasn’t a mention of them.”

Some back story here, in case you didn’t now, Lallana was at Saints since the age of 12 but left for $40 million last summer amid rumors that he refused to play for the club. Lallana told NBC SportsWorld last year that he expected jeers on his return to St. Mary’s. He certainly got that and more and was substituted after 60 minutes with only a few Saints fans applauding him as he trudged off disconsolately.

Rodgers also touched on the win for Liverpool and how important it was to put in a solid defensive display and keep their run going of 10 games without defeat in the PL as their dream of finishing in the top four is well and truly alive.

“It was an outstanding win for. Very controlled. You have to defend at times in particular away from home against a very good side,” Rodgers said. “It was a wonderful win for us and as the game wore on, if we could have picked our passes better we could have got in more. Two wonderful goals and defensively we were very strong. Excellent win.”