The Rodgers decision that cost Liverpool... but ultimately proved a masterstoke

The Reds missed Philippe Coutinho during their Europa League elimination in Turkey - but resting him came up trumps against Manchester City.

After starting 19 Liverpool games in a row, it was no surprise Philippe Coutinho needed a rest this week.

But to rest the Brazilian for a crucial Europa League encounter was a big gamble for Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers.

Ultimately, it was a gamble that backfired where the Reds' European aspirations were concerned.

Without the 22-year-old, who is in supreme form at Anfield, Liverpool didn't tick in Turkey and, bar a few missed chances, never looked as convincing as they could going forward.

Jordan Henderson, too, was a miss, of course, but the Reds midfielder was a different case: he was ruled out through injury. Resting Coutinho was Rodgers' choice.

In the short term, then, Liverpool lost out. But, four days later, the same costly decision proved a masterstroke.

For the rested Coutinho produced a simply sensational display against Premier League champions Manchester City on Sunday afternoon, an energetic performance he could not quite have delivered had he not been as fresh.

The 22-year-old scored the winner for his side but also did so much more. His passing, dribbling and movement were all of the highest calibre.

What many forget about Coutinho is he was delivering similar performances in his first season at Liverpool - and has proven inconsistent since then in the long term. But, while the Brazilian can be hot and cold, he is unstoppable when on song.

And the extra rest at Besiktas helped him unlock that little bit more of his ability against Manchester City. A brave decision from Rodgers.

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