Thursday, 27 March 2014

Fortress Anfield Sees Nervy Win

After three consecutive away games, Liverpool returned to Anfield with their title aspirations intact as they faced Sunderland in a the re-arranged game from a fortnight ago due to Sunderland's FA Cup campaign.

Liverpool retained the same line up from the win at Cardiff meaning Sterling was on the bench for a second successive game but as they have done in recent home games, Liverpool started well with Johnson and Coutinho both chancing from long range with their efforts sailing over the bar with Suarez drifting a free-kick over the bar.

Sturridge had a good effort go off target and was unfortunate not to latch on to a cross from striker partner Suarez as Liverpool dominated the possession with Allen having a go after combining with Suarez but Mannone collected comfortably.

Suarez ran towards the area looking to score himself and was felled by Sunderland defender Vergini who was booked as it was deemed that he was not the last man with Brown also in sight but Liverpool were awarded a dangerous free-kick that Gerrard curled over the wall superbly to put the hosts in front.

Sunderland responded and forced their former 'keeper Mignolet into action as Wickham's deflected shot led to a full stretch save from the Belgian who ensured his side went into the half-time interval in front.

Liverpool wasted no time in extending the lead as Henderson picked out Sturridge and he swerved an effort at goal that clipped Brown and sailed past Mannone for a 2-0 lead and the Englishman's 20th league goal of the season breaking a 50 year record since two Liverpool players scored 20 in the same season.

Sunderland came close to pulling one back in the 70th minute when Dossena's pass found Cattermole and the midfielder powered a volley at goal only to see it cannon off the crossbar and minutes later at the other end, Sturridge looked to replicate his goal but saw his effort hit the bar before bouncing to safety.

Sunderland did get a lifeline and piled pressure on Liverpool when Ki headed into a gaping net after connecting to an inswinging corner and it gave them the momentum as they searched for a leveller but thankfully for the hosts, it failed to come and Liverpool were able to celebrate a seventh successive win which saw them move back into second and just a point behind Chelsea.