Daniel Agger said Liverpool’s scruffy New Year’s Day victory over Hull was vital to maintaining their Champions League push after back-to-back defeats over the festive period.
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Brendan Rodgers’ side were top of the Premier League on Christmas Day but fell to fifth after 2-1 losses at both Manchester City and Chelsea.
But the 2-0 home win over Hull pushed Liverpool back up to fourth, putting them back on track to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2009, and gave them only their third clean sheet in 17 Premier League games.
Agger, who captained the side with Steven Gerrard beginning on the bench, opened the scoring with a header for his first Liverpool goal of the season, before Luis Suarez’s free kick sealed the win.
The shut-out was as satisfying as the goals for the centre-back, who told Liverpool’s official website: “For a defender, a clean sheet is important.
“It wasn't our best performance, but if we can win and get three points without playing at our best, that's important -- especially in the long run.
“[The three points are important] not only for confidence but to stay at the top, to hang in there. We did that.”
Agger, who joined Liverpool from Danish club Brondby in 2006, was captaining Liverpool at Anfield for the first time.
He was given the armband as Gerrard, despite having recovered from the hamstring injury sustained during the 4-1 win over West Ham on Dec. 7, was not risked from the start by manager Rodgers. The midfielder instead made his return as a second-half substitute for Iago Aspas.
Agger said of taking on the Liverpool captaincy for the day: “It’s something that not many players do in their career -- so it was obviously a big thing for me.”