For match photos scroll to 'Photostream' above left; for match stats click on the stats tab. Manager reaction below and press conferences to follow
Luis Suarez marked his Barclays Premier League return with two goals as Liverpool beat Sunderland 3-1 at the Stadium of Light.
Daniel Sturridge opened the scoring as the ball appeared to hit his arm as he scored from a corner before Suarez ensured the visitors held a two-goal advantage at the break courtesy of a close-range finish. Although Sunderland rallied with Emanuele Giaccherini’s goal early in the second period, Liverpool sealed the three points late on as Suarez scored thanks to a Sturridge assist for the second time in the game.
The result moves the Merseyside club to second in the English top flight, and gets Brendan Rodgers' team back to winning ways after consecutive defeats against Southampton, in the league, and Manchester United in the Capital One Cup.
Liverpool named an unchanged team from their narrow midweek defeat at Old Trafford, with Rodgers choosing to stick with the 3-5-2 formation used in Manchester. Sunderland made four changes from their cup outing, with Liverpool loanee Fabio Borini the most notable omission as Jozy Altidore returned in attack.
Suarez was handed his first league start after his 10-match ban, and he made an instant impression on the match as he drove narrowly wide from the edge of the area early on. Liverpool had the ball in the Sunderland net in the first 10 minutes, but Martin Skrtel saw the linesman's flag raised for offside after he had side-footed the rebound from a Steven Gerrard free-kick into the roof of the goal.
An entertaining midfield scrap ensued, but Sunderland were the next to go close to scoring amid the melee. Sebastian Larsson almost made the most of a free-kick, curling a brilliant effort on to the bar with former team-mate Simon Mignolet looking beaten.
The visitors had ridden their luck to remain level, and were the recipients of another slice of good fortune at the other end of the pitch moments later. Gerrard found Sturridge with a corner from the left-hand side and, though the striker misjudged his attempted header, the ball ricocheted in off his arm to give Liverpool the lead.
Just eight minutes later, Rodgers' side had their second, and it came from Suarez. A fabulous cross-field ball from Gerrard allowed Sturridge to make ground on the right-hand side, and the striker's poke across goal provided his Uruguayan colleague with a tap-in from close range.
Liverpool had little trouble in taking their two-goal lead into the break, but the away side received a rude awakening early in the second as Sunderland pulled one back. Mignolet failed to keep hold of a Ki Sung-Yueng effort from the edge of the box, and Giaccherini reacted quicker than the visitors' defenders to poke the ball home.
The goal buoyed Sunderland's fans, with the increased noise inside the Stadium of Light adding vigour to the hosts' counter-attacks. But Liverpool looked the bigger threat, and they came close to doubling their lead on two occasions as Victor Moses' inswinging cross drifted narrowly wide before Suarez could have done better in getting onto a cross from the left.
The 26-year-old eventually got his second, however, as he passed the ball home after Sturridge unselfishly squared following a swift counter-attacking move late on.
Sunderland caretaker head coach Kevin Ball: "Before the game I said to them about the performance. Yes, we do need points, we're not going to lie from that point of view, but we need performances to build on. Before the game today, I took the players for a walk along the seafront because I wanted them to see the people they play for, see the people they represent.
"When you saw the game today, they put in a very good performance. Yes, we haven't come out with any points, but there are a lot of plusses that we can take going forward and allow us to build.
"I give credit to the board, they always speak to me at certain times about certain things and they're always in touch so to speak but not necessarily about this [the vacant manager’s job]. I wouldn't like to say, if they want me to and want to take it forward then great. If they want to do something else then that's their prerogative. The first thing I'll be doing is going over this game tomorrow with the players.
"In the Premier League you're always up against attacking threats and the higher you go up in the league in terms of the team, it's always going to get harder and they're going to get better. From both Suarez and Sturridge's point of view it's a fantastic attacking threat. When you look at Suarez, he's an absolutely world-class player."
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers: "I'm not sure there are two better [strikers] in the league. There are some wonderful partnerships around, you've got [Robin] Van Persie and [Wayne] Rooney up there who've been outstanding.
"We've changed the structure of our team a bit to allow us to pass it better and we've still got an awful lot of work to do - but also to fit in with the types of players we have. And those two are right up there with the best in the country and you saw that today.
"For the goal, Steven Gerrard makes an absolutely breathtaking pass out of pressure and Daniel's touch, pace, power takes him in and he's shown that quality to roll the ball in for Luis to get his finish. Those two will only get better, you see the understanding, we've done a lot of work with them together in training and they looked very bright today.
"I was delighted with the result. We had a really good performance but didn't get anything in the week at Old Trafford so to come away and get the result and perform in parts of the game as we did today was very pleasing.
"Kevin [Ball, Sunderland’s caretaker manager] had a reaction from his team, he's only been in charge of them for a short period of time but you could see the intensity and the focus they had in the game. So we always had to be alert and I thought we defended very well and on the counter-attack we looked very, very threatening so [it is] a great victory for us."
|18 Jan 2014||v Southampton (H)|
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|07 May 2014||v West Brom (H)|
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|08 Feb 2014||v Hull (H)|