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Liverpool 2, Sunderland 1: First Thoughts

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Playing at home for the first time in more than a month, Liverpool struggled to break down a stubborn Sunderland side but in the end the Reds persevered to keep their title challenge alive.

Alex Livesey

liverpool blog fc sbn

Liverpool 2 Gerrard 39', Sturridge 48'
Sunderland 1 Ki 76'

  • Squad rotation? Brendan Rodgers laughs at your quaint notions. Then again, with the roll Liverpool has been on of late, there's certainly a case to be made for not making unnecessary changes and sticking with a lineup and formation that keeps both Suarez and Sturridge together up top.

  • With the crowd in good form, Liverpool came out of the gates firing, but the most their early pressure could do was earn a free kick on the edge of the area that Suarez sent over the goal. Meanwhile, Sunderland weren't even asking questions.

  • The pressure took longer than normal to pay off, but there was only one side in the match and in the 39th minute Steven Gerrard smashed a free kick into the top corner after Santiago Vergini dragged Suarez down. Sunderland, though, were fortunate to only be down a goal, as Vergini was the last man back when he took down Suarez but referee Kevin Friend failed to send the defender off.

  • Five minutes later, Vergini mistimed another challenge on Suarez and for the second time was fortunate to stay on the pitch as Friend again sought to keep Sunderland in the game instead of refereeing it. It didn't matter to Liverpool, though, as they went into the half in the lead and in control.

  • With Sunderland starting the second sitting back defensively as they had in the first, it only took minutes for Liverpool to score their second and effectively put the game to bed as Daniel Sturridge cut inside and curled a long shot into the top corner in front of a celebratory Kop.

  • The rest of the second half largely continued apace. Liverpool controlled the game and at times looked dangerous while Sunderland mostly did nothing and Friend continued to do his best to undermine the integrity of the game with one of the most inept refereeing performances of the season.

  • Sunderland tried to make it interesting late on with a Ki Sung-Young header getting them to within one, but in the end Liverpool persevered to overcome both a stubborn opponent and a referee who had done his best to help keep them in the match.

liverpool blog fc sbn

We'll be back shortly to take an in-depth look at everything that happened in today's game with the full recap. Until then, let us know your take on the ups and downs of the match in the comments, and if you haven't already, join the community on the Liverpool Offside, where we'll have full coverage and lively in-game discussion for every match this season.