Match Report: Liverpool 3-0 Sunderland - New Year, Same Rubbish

Alex Livesey

The new year starts in incredibly poor fashion for Sunderland as they were well and truly battered by Liverpool at Anfield.

Well things started alright for us at Anfield. At least we had that as for twenty minutes we really looked quite up for it and like we could take at lease a point.

Adam Johnson caused panic in the Liverpool defence with a well struck freekick which lead to Craig Gardner's half-volley being blocked and sent wide for a corner. That was in turn flicked wide by James McClean via Daniel Agger as we nearly made the most of our first spell of pressure at the home end.

At the other end Andre Wisdom lashed one over with what was very much the shot of an out of position central defender, while Stewart Downing did a little better as he had Simon Mignolet at full stretch to stop a powerful freekick.

Either way, it was imperative that we lasted the first half without conceding to give ourselves a bit of a chance in this one and we couldn't.

A long ball forward saw Raheem Sterling beat whatever attempt at an offside trap we were trying to play, and indeed out pace every chasing defender to lob the ball nicely over the advancing Mignolet to make it 1-0.

We were nearly level within two minutes. In fact, we should have been level. Some delicious interplay between Stephane Sessegnon and Steven Fletcher allowed James McClean to get free in the box, but on his favoured left foot and under little pressure he dragged his shot wide of the mark, not even testing Pepe Reina.

How we'd rue that miss as Luis Suarez made it 2-0 moments later.

Inexplicably Matt Kilgallon was out jumped and lost a header to Raheem Sterling - the smallest man on the pitch - and the ball fell nicely for a foot-race between Suarez and Carlos Cuellar. The Spaniard actually fouled Suarez during this although Phil Dowd allowed play to continue, and Suarez poked beyond Mignolet from close range.

Downing could have made it three if he'd connected better with a Steven Gerrard cross a minute later, but after that we had a couple more chances to get ourselves back on level terms.

James McClean on his wrong foot should have done better after a Seb Larsson corner caused all kinds of bother, but a greater chance was to be missed a couple of minutes later.

If we thought McClean should have scored with either of his two efforts, Mat Kilgallon really, really should have buried his half volley from close range after Johnson had chipped the ball into the area. Mind you, Steven Fletcher on the follow up wasn't much better and the ball was smothered away for a corner. Which of course we wasted.

After that Liverpool basically just saw out time until the whistle for the half way mark. We looked absolutely awful both in front of goal and trying to defend our own.

At half time Fraizer Campbell was brought on to replace Stephane Sessegnon in a move which saw James McClean tuck inside, but it didn't really help things as shortly after the restart it was 3-0 and even further beyond doubt.

Suarez it was with his second of the night having controlled a long and lofted Steven Gerrard ball on the edge of the area before he once again stabbed beyond Simon Mignolet.

With an hour gone we could have been very much back in it had it not been for such profligacy in front of goal, instead our ineptitude at the back meant it was a case of damage limitation. In a game-changing move Seb Larsson was replaced by James McFadden. Remember him?

Liverpool continued to pile on the pressure. Gerrard's shot was diverted towards goal by Glen Johnson and tipped over in spectacular fashion by Mignolet.

Luis Suarez once gain proved he is a good footballer when he doesn't feel like chucking himself to the ground and found himself on the end of another raking Gerrard pass, although this time Mignolet was equal to it.

Glen Johnson had the ball in the net as time ticked on by but it was ruled out for offside. Thankfully for us, and much to the dismay of the England right-back.

You may have noticed a lack of this report mentioning us having anything going on at the other end. That's because there wasn't a single thing. I can't even remember us getting within 30-yards of their goal in all honesty. Something that was reflected in the in-play betting market for "What's Pepe Reina Been Doing In The Second Half?"...

7/2 - Solved a Rubik's Cube without having to peel off and rearrange the stickers.

4/1 - Read "War And Peace" cover to cover and left a review on Amazon.

12/1 - Scoured the Anfield Road end to see if any of them look like the Black Dog Strangler.

33/1 - Used Ancestry.com to work out if James McFadden is Steven Fletcher's Dad or not.

75/1 - Genuinely worried we might have a shot on target.

Oh, and Liverpool had another goal chalked out for offside. Joe Allen this time denied his first goal for the Reds after someone was on the line being all offside and that as he smashed the ball into the roof of the net from close range.

Back to the game in general though, it was crap and we were lucky it was only three. Significant spending is required in January if we're to get ourselves to a respectable place in the table, because right now we seem determined to undo the good work we did against Southampton and Manchester City.

For further match reaction stick around in our Match Stream. It's just over HERE.

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