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Sunderland 0, Liverpool 1: First Thoughts

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Liverpool were generally impressive in taking all three points at the Stadium of Light with a stand-out performance from goalscorer Lazar Marković.

Lazar strikes!
Lazar strikes!
Michael Regan/Getty Images

liverpool blog fc sbn

Sunderland 0
Liverpool  1 Marković 9'

  • Pre-match thoughts: Liverpool made two changes to the side that beat AFC Wimbledon earlier in the week. Fabio Borini replaced Rickie Lambert and Alberto Moreno started in place of Javi Manquillo. Dejan Lovren returned to the squad in place of ACON bound Kolo Touré. A different young Jordan made the bench today as Rossiter replaced Williams. Raheem Sterling continued his absence from the squad to recharge his special batteries, and Borini narrative should be a fruitful source for commentators during the game.

  • Liverpool should have had a penalty after Wes Brown wasn't accurate enough in tackling Lazar Marković after only three minutes. That was a poor decision from referee Craig Pawson, but he redeemed himself by playing advantage after a foul on Borini on the edge of the area. The ball broke to Lazar Marković who bundled the ball through the area and into the net.

  • Liverpool showed considerable improvement in controlling the game when going ahead, an area that has struggled with at times. Jordan Henderson and Lucas Leiva were steady in midfield, attacking players pressed and contributed in stemming Sunderland counter attacks after losing possession. Liverpool were dominating the ball, controlling, the game, restricting chances from the opposition, and looking like a side that can challenge for a top four place.

  • Liverpool had a number of chances to double their lead through an acrobatic effort from Marković that hit the bar, Henderson did a little impression of Marco van Basten to hit the post but the referee judged that he handled the ball, Steven Gerrard hit the side netting with a powerful shot and had a tame shot saved, and Fabio Borini was put through on goal by a wonderful ball from Emre Can but the Italian could only find the side netting.

  • Half-time thoughts: Brendan Rodgers must have wondered how his side weren't two or three nil up, but Liverpool were impressive. Emre Can, Philippe Coutinho, Lucas Leiva, and goalscorer Lazar Marković were probably the stand-out players from a good bunch all over the pitch. Fabio Borini had a decent half full of harrying and movement, but his work lacked conviction in the final third.

  • An injured Steven Gerrard was substituted for Dejan Lovren, moving Can further forward Lazar Marković started the second half with menace, running down the right before playing a low ball into the box and shooting off target moments later. Liam Bridcutt was sent off for a second bookable offence after trying to halt the marauding Emre Can. The red card sparked Sunderland into life. Adam Johnson's shot from 25 yards hit the crossbar and the home side began to put pressure on Liverpool.

  • Mario Balotelli replaced his countryman with just over twenty minutes to go and it was the right move with the options of bench. His movement was a problem for Liverpool when constructing counter attacks and looking for openings. He made a couple of interesting runs, but it will be hard to see him make it under Rodgers with his style of play.

  • It was a competitive last twenty minutes, and Liverpool could have scored another goal with the right decision making in the final third. Sunderland pushed Liverpool without truly threatening after Adam Johnson's long-range strike apart from a header late on that went over the bar.

  • Full time: Job done by Liverpool with a clean sheet and a generally impressive performance with a couple of bumps. Liverpool are slowly building momentum.

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.