|Webster o.g. 78|
Given the eleven that started, this wasn't a bad night for the Reds.
It was a pretty even contest over the 90 minutes and I'm not sure that the win was fully deserved, but nevertheless it was certainly a welcome one.
Rodgers went with a lop-sided team selection, with no natural width coming from the right wing. Jordan Henderson and Jonjo Shelvey both had stints out there but neither impressed, meaning that our entire attacking threat came from the left in the form of Raheem Sterling.
Although the youngster faded slightly in the second half he was generally excellent tonight. Aside from being a constant threat cutting in on his right foot, he tracked back and showed more maturity than I've seen before. Make no mistake about this lad - in time he will be an automatic first team choice.
Both sides had shots from distance in a lively enough start to the game. The fanatical proddy home support was in full voice which gave Hearts plenty of adrenalin to feed off. Indeed they had the better of the first 15 minutes but just lacked a little composure when it mattered.
As the half wore on the Reds began to settle into the game. Sterling forced the keeper into action in the 29th minute while Fabio Borini failed to get on the end of a Jordan Henderson through ball five minutes later.
With virtually the last kick of the half Borini should have opened the scoring. Sterling latched on to a slack cross-field pass and unselfishly teed up the Italian. However it was shades of last season all over again as his shot came back off the post when it seemed harder to miss. No bad luck here, just poor finishing and something that we can really do without seeing again this season.
There wasn't a great deal of change in the second half, with neither side really looking like testing the opposition keeper. The only real point of interest came in the 62nd minute when Stewart Downing replaced Robinson at left-back. It was a chin-rubbing move by Rodgers and given that we're going to be stuck with the wing "wizard" for the foreseeable future, this may be a development worth keeping an eye on.
The goal came in the 78th minute and as per last season, our forwards had very little to do with it. Martin Kelly found himself in space down the right and whipped a dangerous ball into that "corridor of uncertainty". Borini was in there making a nuisance of himself but the final touch came from a man named Webster.
After the goal went in the Reds seemed to relax a little and actually played some nice possession stuff in places as they looked to see out the game. Hearts huffed and puffed in the final few minutes forcing Reina into a couple of decent saves, but it just wasn't to be for them.
All in all it was ok tonight. Shelvey was again very sloppy and he'll need to buck up his ideas if he wants to force his way into the first team. It's a shame his form has dipped because he has such a great eye for a pass.
As with the first half of the West Brom game, I could see the seeds of Rodgers' philosophy being planted in the players heads this evening. I get the feeling that we'll take a few tonkings along the way this season when things go wrong, but I'm prepared for that. The important thing is that the players have faith and stick with the programme because it will eventually come to fruition.
Subs: Downing for Robinson (62), Allen for Spearing (67), Morgan for Borini (90)
Unused Subs: Jones, Flanagan, Coates, Lucas.