The Spain star, who is still returning to full fitness, produced a stunning volley from the edge of the area in the 65th minute to give the Reds a 1-0 win and his performance, along with that of the team, was praised by Hodgson.
"It was hard-fought, especially the first half when we weren't firing on all cylinders and they were playing well and causing us problems," said the Liverpool manager.
"I thought we got better as the game went on and we got the points thanks to a world-class strike.
"It was good goal to win the game and I thought we were going to get a second when Steven Gerrard produced a piece of magic to find Fernando at the far post but (Scott) Carson was equal to that.
"He is trying very hard at the moment and he is playing catch-up - we've said it many times before - but I think that goal will be great for his confidence."