• 17-year-old becomes Liverpool's second-youngest goalscorer
• Rodgers backs teenager to develop into a long-term star
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Brendan Rodgers believes that hunger will determine whether Raheem Sterling is a star of the future at Liverpool or merely a passing comet. At the end of a week in which Liverpool declared their intention to stay at Anfield, the teenager's appetite suggests they have something to build on.
The expert finish that delivered a deserved victory over Reading, and a first home league win as Liverpool manager for Rodgers, was the natural focal point of the 17-year-old's performance. But it was his doggedness in the tackle, the strength in his small frame and desire to assist Glen Johnson both in defence and attack that gave added hope to Rodgers. It did not go unnoticed. Anfield rose in ironic, amusing celebration of a free-kick decision in favour of Luis Suárez but also reserved its applause for every interception and challenge from Sterling on the day he became the second youngest goalscorer in the club's history.
"I think that's the ethos of the group that we're trying to evolve here," said Rodgers of the winger's willingness to do "the dirty work".
"Look at Andre Wisdom as well, we mustn't forget him. The attacking players tend to get all the praise but if you look at Andre, 19 years of age, up against a really experienced opponent [Jobi McAnuff], and he was magnificent. He was strong, aggressive and the pride they showed in their shirt was really impressive. All of them have that."
Wisdom's powerful display at right-back helped secure a second successive clean sheet for Liverpool, one that was not in doubt until Brian McDermott's side showed up in the second half and almost capitalised on another wasteful home performance.
Suárez was outstanding, except in front of goal, and only Sterling showed the ruthlessness required, finding the bottom corner superbly after Wisdom and the Uruguay international combined to send the teenager clear. He now stands second behind Michael Owen on the list of Liverpool's youngest goalscorers.
"He's still got an awful long way to go," said Rodgers. "We want to have him here as a legend for many years. We don't want him at 17 years of age getting carried away with all the adulation and then at 21 he's washed up and everyone wants him out. The biggest thing for me is maintaining the hunger he's got now because he can be a really top player. It's a long way to go for him but at the moment he's been a revelation.
"I don't have any concerns about him at this moment. I talk to the players a lot about the good and the bad and just try and keep them developing. For him, right up until now, he's been brilliant. He's got a lovely way about him. He's a good kid. His mum does a great job with him and the people at the academy have taught him good values as well. He's made that transition very well."
Added satisfaction for Rodgers came from the run Sterling made for the goal, one straight from the training ground. The manager explained: "We've looked to develop his and Suso's game so that rather than being stuck out wide they come in around the corner, a half-position I call it, and that gives you that possibility to combine. Luis is one of the cleverest players in the world at that. In the box he sees little things and passes, and these players can pick up these things from him. I thought Raheem did that really well."
Liverpool controlled the game yet Reading would have added to Anfield's torment had Gareth McCleary or McAnuff found a way past Brad Jones, replacing the injured José Reina in the home goal, after the interval. But the visitors should never have had the encouragement of a way back.
Liverpool's generosity remains Rodgers' deepest concern.
Man of the match Glen Johnson (Liverpool)