Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho scored outstanding goals either side of an Edin Dzeko equaliser on Sunday to enhance Liverpool’s chances of finishing in the top four of the Premier League.
The result also helped to make amends for their European exit to Besiktas on penalties in Istanbul on Thursday, a trip from which they did not arrive back on Merseyside until the early hours of Friday morning.
Rodgers told??Sky Sports: “I have got to take my hat off to the players. We got back at half four in the early hours of Friday morning and by the time the players got to bed, it was probably about six o’clock.
“They have had to sleep all of Friday. We have done some work yesterday [Saturday] preparing for the game, and to come out and play like that, how they have today, just relentless they were.
“To restrict them [Manchester City] to one shot on target – and that’s a top team – I thought the players were incredible today, so they deserve all the praise that they get for the performance and the result.”
Having started the season poorly and been 11th in the table in mid-December, Liverpool are now fifth and unbeaten in 11 games in the Premier League.
Rodgers admitted the difference between his side now and in the first half of the campaign is stark and said finishing in the top four would be the biggest achievement of his tenure as Liverpool manager so far.
He added: “If you see them now and where they were at, it’s night and day difference. They have had to work, it hasn’t just happened for them. They believed in how they were working and playing and they are getting the results for that.
“I believe if we can get into the top four this season, it will be a better achievement than last season in terms of how we started the season and the creation of another team.
“We have just got to keep the focus and keep our concentration, and keep working like we did today, and if we keep doing that, we can achieve what we want to.”
Coutinho was man of the match against City thanks to his winning goal, but Rodgers was also quick to praise fellow forwards Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana for their collective efforts off the ball.
He added: “Those three – Raheem through the middle and two boys [Coutinho and Lallana] in behind – have been outstanding. They are really gifted technical players, but you saw today how they press the ball.
“They are very clever, intelligent in how they press and get up to people and that was key for us today.
“I thought Joe Allen was brilliant. He doesn???t score many goals, he is not one that creates a lot, but he is the door that opens everything up. Getting on the ball, courageous, composure, I thought he was outstanding in there today, along with Jordan Henderson.”