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Match Report: Sunderland 1-1 Liverpool - Draw, Draw, Draw, How Do We Like It?

Stu Forster - Getty Images

Another game where possession was sacrified from Sunderland's point of view, and for the most part, its shape remained intact. Conceding, and in the manner that we did, is frustrating, but a point keeps us plodding along. In fact, that's pretty much what Sunderland did today - there was little penetration from the wide areas and when Stephane Sessegnon did find himself in favourable positions, support was fleeting.

Believe it or not there is more to today's game than that, so why not forge on...

Martin O'Neill made just the one change as Danny Rose came in for his debut at the expense of Adam Johnson - who had failed to overcome injury. Rose's inclusion enabled Jack Colback to return to central midfield, with Sebastian Larsson starting on the right-hand side of midfield.

The visitors looked lively in the early exchanges; both Jonjo Shelvey and Luis Suarez dragged shots wide as the latter was afforded space in between the lines. It was a position that Suarez drifted to throughout, with neither the home side identifying it as a concern, nor Suarez truly capitalizing on such space.

On 18 minutes, the first real chance of the game fell to Fabio Borini, after Carlos Cuellar twice failed to effectively clear his lines. Having initially headed a clearance straight into the air, the Spaniard's second attempt - aiming to cushion the ball back to Simon Mignolet - fell short, but the goalkeeper smothered Borini's stab towards goal.

Moments later, Sunderland had the opportunity to create a first real chance from Larsson's free-kick, but his curling effort evaded everyone and the far post. Mignolet again denied Borini from the edge of the box but Liverpool's possession came without penetration - something that Sunderland was quick to highlight two minutes later. Moving the ball from left to right, Rose picked out Larsson, who rolled the ball back to his full-back. From there, Craig Gardner lined up Borini, and advanced; his take-on of both the Italian and Glen Johnson was assisted by ricochets but his cross excellently found Steven Fletcher who finished expertly.

Suarez again looked to test Mignolet from outside the area, but his free-kick failed to beat the wall. And, with half-time approaching, his unashamed dive conveyed Liverpool frustrations. Sunderland went into half-time with the one-goal lead, but came out without Cuellar, who was replaced by Titus Bramble. Brendan Rodgers' men again started the half the better as Shelvey fired straight at Mignolet and Johnson, who was allowed inside and onto his stronger right foot by James McClean, hit the bar.

Yet it seemed Sunderland would ride a second Liverpool surge; having forced a corner, Colback's kick found its way to Gardner on the edge of the box, but Martin Kelly stood tall to block the ferocious shot. After another encouraging passage of play, McClean turned the ball inside to Colback, but the midfielder blazed over. Then, another warning sign: Mignolet did well to turn a cross away from the six-yard area but Gerrard latched onto the loose ball - his deliberately-placed effort clipping the outside out of the post.

Moments later, the home goalkeeper needed to be alert to hold Martin Skrtel's flick-on from a corner, but was unable to do anything about the equaliser on 71 minutes. Raheem Sterling had caused Rose problems throughout, if a little unprotected by McClean, and he failed to stop the fleet-footed Liverpool man from advancing into the box again. John O'Shea's lunging effort to thwart Suarez had initially done enough, but a flat-footed Bramble was unable to clear, presenting Suarez with the chance to blast home from close range.

As Liverpool drew level, the already-premium on chances rose. Gardner intercepted a sweeping Gerrard pass to kick-start a counter attack, but unfortunately the move broke down as McClean's cross was cut out. The winger had another decent opportunity to find a team-mate in the box, but his delivery was high when perhaps a cut-back to Stephane Sessegnon was the better option. Substitute Louis Saha's shot, like his side's chances of regaining the lead, drifted away late on.

Team (Ratings In Brackets)

Starting XI: Mignolet (7); Gardner (7), O'Shea (6), Cuellar (6), Rose (5); Larsson (6), Cattermole (6), Colback (6), McClean (5); Sessegnon (6); Fletcher (6)

Subs Used: Bramble (5), Campbell (5), Saha (5)

Man Of The Match: Craig Gardner - Looking more at home at right-back with each passing game. Contained Fabio Borini and his venture forward lead to Steven Fletcher's opening goal. Made himself available for a pass throughout, and made a number of timely defensive interventions. He just shades Simon Mignolet who dealt with what was thrown at him with a minimal of fuss.

We'll have more reaction to the game tomorrow with Michael Graham's Quick Kicks taking a closer look at the how's and the why's, and also O'Neill's verdict on a third successive draw.

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