Suarez stellar comeback no surprise to Rodgers – Luis wanted to stay and work

Luis Suarez unloaded both barrels at the Stadium of Light. Photo: PA

Luis Suarez's match-winning heroics at Sunderland came as no surprise to Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.

The Uruguay international claimed a double at the Stadium of Light on his return to Premier League action following his 10-game ban as the Reds ran out 3-1 winners.

Rodgers revealed after the game that Suarez had spent his exile honing his skills to ensure he was ready to make an instant impact.

He said: "Listen, he hasn't been cocooned away out of the way and then just come into football.

"I gave him the opportunity to maybe go back to Uruguay for a bit and just come away from it because he is someone who loves football and I knew how much it would hurt him for him not to be playing.

"But he wanted to stay, he wanted to work. He did lots of extra sessions, finishing sessions, conditioning sessions because when he came back, he wanted to be up to speed.

"Of course, you are never going to be totally up to speed, but I think it would be very hard for anyone to say today that he wasn't very, very good, and that's a great credit to him and also our conditioning team, who have put him through his paces for a period of time."

Liverpool were already leading through Daniel Sturridge's 28th-minute opener - a mistimed header from a Steven Gerrard corner which went in off his arm - when Suarez struck for the first time.

Gerrard's superb long ball allowed Sturridge to race past Carlos Cuellar and cross to the far post for the South American to prod home with eight minutes of the first half remaining.

To their credit, Sunderland, who have now taken just a single point from their opening six league games, made a fist of it and gave themselves hope when Emanuele Giaccherini pounced after Simon Mignolet failed to hold Ki Sung-yueng's 52nd-minute shot.

But Suarez made sure at the death when he exchanged passes with Sturridge and steered a left-footed shot past goalkeeper Keiren Westwood.

For interim Black Cats head coach Kevin Ball, there were at least positives to take from the game.

He said: "Before the game today, we took the players for a walk along the seafront because I wanted them to see the people they play for, see the people they represent.

"When you saw the game today, I thought they put in a very good performance. Yes, we haven't come out with any points, but for me, there were a lot of pluses that we can take going forward to allow us things to build on, and I said that to the players as well."

Sunderland's search for a replacement for sacked manager Paolo Di Canio is ongoing, and Ball admits he does not know if he will remain in charge for Saturday's clash with Manchester United.

He said: "I would like to think the first thing I will be doing is concentrating on going over this game in the morning with the players.

"We have got a training session in the morning, we have got a game in the afternoon in which some of the players who haven't played today will be involved, and then I would like to think if the opportunity arises, I will speak to somebody after that."