A poor display by Sunderland on a day which promised so much. 47,000 went to the Stadium of Light expecting so much more than the toothless display served up by Sunderland. Despite a controversial penalty, can't really argue with the result too much as we were THAT poor, and missed a fantastic opportunity to push towards the top six.
Match report continues...
The partnership between Welbeck and Gyan combined to give the lads the best opening of the first half an hour. Some wonderful interplay down the left hand side, and Kieran Richardson just couldn't get on the end of Welbeck's whipped cross.
Then however, things took a turn for the worse. First of all, Sulley Muntari injured himself stretching for the ball, and was replaced by Lee Cattermole, himself only this weekend returning from injury. Moments later, Kieran Richardson seemed to have had enough too as he succumbed to injury. Can't say I saw what was wrong, but he was replaced by Steed Malbranque and after 25 or so minutes we'd already used two substitutions.
Then the controversy started. John Mensah slipping as he took down a high ball was robbed by Jay Spearing. Spearing making his way towards goal, Mensah in pursuit was brought down OUTSIDE the area by the Ghanaian. Referee Kevin Friend signalled for a freekick. After much protestation by the Liverpool players, Friend consulted his linesman, who was easily 30-40 yards away, changed his mind, and awarded a penalty.
Dirk Kuyt stepped up and sent Simon Mignolet the wrong way. 1-0. I can take controversial decisions, even against us, it's just infuriating when the referee is correct, then changes his mind to make himself incorrect.
Following that Sunderland seemed at sixes and sevens. Luis Suarez forced a great save from Mignolet as the Scousers peppered the Belgian's goal, and at half-time we went in one down.
The second half looked to be the same as the first. SAFC with all the possession, but doing nothing at all with it. Not even a shot in anger as Liverpool started to look the more dangerous.
Andy Carroll nearly got a goal in his first league start for Liverpool, his powerful header cleared off the line by Lee Cattermole.
The big crowd at the Stadium Of Light tried desperately to encourage the lads to get back into things after the let-off, but the best which could be mustered was a few weak efforts sent wide by Steed Malbranque and Jordan Henderson. Ahmed Elmohamady, not long on as a sub had a powerful header blocked as SAFC tried without really making a clear cut chance.
With the game getting scrappy and neither team doing enough to stretch things, Luis Suarez finished off any hope Sunderland had with a thunderbolt of a strike.
Whilst the neutrals will appreciate a great goal, from the Sunderland side of things should never have happened. Suarez turned Cattermole far too easily to head down the by line and smash one past Simon Mignolet, who was expecting a cross. Great goal, can't deny the Uruguayan that, but it could and should have been stopped.
2-0, and most certainly game over. The icing on the cake came 5 minutes later when John Mensah, who had a terrible afternoon was given a second yellow card for a foul on Suarez.
The game played itself out with little fan-fare. Lee Cattermole finally got Sunderland's first shot on target after 85 minutes, but even that didn't really test Pepe Reina as a miserable day came to an end.
22 Mignolet - 7/10 - Couple of good saves aside from that one blunder.
02 Bardsley - 6/10 - Typical Bardsley performance. Full of effort, but didn't seem his usual self today.
03 Richardson - 6/10 - Only on a few minutes, and didn't make much impact.
05 Mensah - 5/10 - Even without the sending off, he had a very poor game today.
10 Henderson - 6/10 - Looked lost at times, really don't want him in the centre any more.
11 Muntari - 6/10 - Was spraying the ball about well prior to coming off with an injury.
17 Welbeck - 7/10 - Looked sharp on his return and linked up well with Gyan.
19 Bramble - 6/10 - Didn't have a great game today, continually out of position.
28 Sessegnon - 6/10 - Lots of effort and flair, but never managed even one final ball.
29 Ferdinand - 7/10 - Played alright at right back, one of the better defenders today.
33 Gyan - 6/10 - Did well with Welbeck, but faded badly without Welbeck.
06 Cattermole - 7/10 - Played well on his return and didn't look too off the pace following long lay off.
08 Malbranque - 6/10 - Hustle, bustle, but nothing of note.
27 Elmohamady - 6/10 - Wayward crossing as is usual from Elmo, bit disappointing.
All in all, a poor game from Sunderland, and we didn't deserve to win. Not won at home since New Years Day, and over 345 minutes without a goal.
The battle for Europe is over, and suddenly we're looking over our shoulder worrying about whether we're gonna finish in the top half. Steve Bruce spoke of wanting a top 6 finish, we're going to have to seriously up our game to sort that out, and top 8 seems a more realistic goal.
After we had a weekend off and is seemed like an age until this game rolled around, we have another break, and I'm very much going to enjoy this one methinks.
Keep the faith everyone, it's been very disappointing today, but we certainly won't get a high league finish if we turn on the team. Lets keep backing them, and hoping the lads can turn the situation around.