A flat Liverpool failed to break down Sunderland as the two sides played out a goalless draw at Anfield
Brendan Rodgers' side came into the clash buoyed by back-to-back victories over Stoke City and Leicester City but they fell short of making it three consecutive league wins for the first time this season.
Captain Steven Gerrard, so impressive at Leicester on Tuesday, was back on the Liverpool bench and replaced by Philippe Coutinho.
But the Brazilian failed to provide the creative spark Liverpool so desperately needed, and it was the visitors who arguably had the better of the chances through Wes Brown and Connor Wickham.
For Sunderland, who have never won in the Premier League at Anfield, a point represents an encouraging response following their chastening 4-1 defeat to Manchester City on Wednesday.
Gus Poyet's side remained solid throughout, with the likes of Coutinho, Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling unable to provide frontman Rickie Lambert with any clear chances to break the stalemate.
Gerrard was introduced in place of Lallana midway through the second half, but Liverpool's talisman was unable to inspire his side to find a winner as they were forced to settle for a share of the spoils.
Coutinho for Gerrard was one of two changes for the hosts, with Alberto Moreno coming in for Javi Manquillo in defence.
Poyet promised to freshen things up following the defeat in midweek, and stuck to his word as the team showed five alterations.
The visitors had shouts for a penalty waved away in the third minute when Wickham went down under a challenge from Martin Skrtel.
Goalmouth action was scarce, but Sunderland had the best chance before the break when Brown powered a header over the crossbar from Seb Larsson's corner on the stroke of half-time.
Liverpool appealed for a penalty in the 51st minute when Moreno's low cross deflected off John O'Shea and struck Jordi Gomez on the arm, but once again referee Neil Swarbrick was unmoved.
Wickham then flashed a left-footed volley across goal as Sunderland threatened an opener, before Liverpool's first effort of note arrived in the 64th minute as Lucas Leiva's strike from distance brought a comfortable save out of Costel Pantilimon.
The Romanian goalkeeper was in action again 12 minutes from time, parrying Coutinho's drive following a mazy dribble and pass from Sterling.
Gomez stung the palms of Simon Mignolet with a rasping drive three minutes later and although Liverpool enjoyed the majority of possession in the closing stages, Rodgers' men failed to make the crucial breakthrough.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers: "The players gave everything and in the second half we looked like we could make breakthrough. Sunderland proved this year that they are a hard team to beat. I can't fault the players. They needed a wee bit of luck and it didn't come. If you can't win it's important you don't lose. We've taken seven points from nine this week which is a good return for us."
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet: “After 65-70 minutes I thought today was going to be the day Sunderland got a win at Anfield, unfortunately we weren’t able to score a goal to change the game.
“On a positive note, we are becoming a very difficult team to play against. We stopped Chelsea from scoring last week and now we’ve stopped Liverpool from scoring at Anfield and that’s a credit to the players and the way they’ve been playing.
“Overall I think it was a decent performance. It was important for the players who came into the side today to realise how much they were needed. These players have been knocking on my door to play and they gave good performances, which is great for our system, as we’ve got a lot of games coming up and may need to make changes to stay fresh."
|21 Dec 2014||v Arsenal (H)|
|14 Dec 2014||v Man Utd (A)|
|26 Dec 2014||v Burnley (A)|
|29 Dec 2014||v Swansea (H)|
|01 Jan 2015||v Leicester (H)|
|10 Jan 2015||v Sunderland (A)|