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BPL 2010/11 : Sunderland vs Liverpool Review

The Reds bounced back from the disappointment of the midweek Europa League exit with a convincing 2-0 triumph over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. And in truth, these were a much needed three points in the pursuit of a European place come the end of the season.

Kenny Dalglish welcomed the return of Daniel Agger and the new Liverpool hero Luis Suarez, who was drafted in the starting line-up alongside Andy Carroll as it was a good opportunity to get a measure of what the front pair are capable of. The injury to Martin Kelly meant Jamie Carragher had to deputize in the fullback position. The inclusion of Jay Spearing forced Raul Meireles wide on the left hand side.

The Black Cats, who have had a good start to their season, were themselves going through a bad patch of form in which they haven’t managed to garner a victory in the past month and a half.

But the game started very much as expected as the home side pressed and attacked from the word go. Ghanaian frontman Asamoah Gyan showed some lovely feet and link up play with Danny Welbeck to cause some early scares for the oppostion backline. But Steve Bruce’s side lost the momentum midway through the first half with two early substitutions disrupting their game plan.

And it got worse for the home side after John Mensah’s miscontrol allowed Jay Spearing to run towards goal only to be brought down. The replays showed the challenge being outside the box but referee Kevin Friend, after much consultation with the linesman, pointed to the spot. Even though it was the incorrect decision, Liverpool would have happily taken it keeping into account the beach ball incident last year. Dirk Kuyt coolly slotted it home to give his side the lead twelve minutes before the break.

The pattern of the game had been established in the first half, with Liverpool playing on the counter whenever the opportunity arised.  Sunderland huffed and puffed but were not able to penetrate a solid Reds defense. And Luis Suarez dashed any hopes of a comeback on 76 minutes, when he got the better of Lee Cattermole on the byline and audaciously side footed the ball over the keeper Simon Mignolet from an acute angle to make sure of the victory. John Mensah, who had had a wretched afternoon, got his marching orders after he denied Luis Suarez a clear goalscoring opportunity nine minutes from time.

The game overall was not the most attractive but Liverpool were strong at the back and effective upfront and deserved the three points. The victory makes it all the more interesting for the run-in till the end of the season with the European spot a pressing issue.

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