Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Markovic Seals Reds Victory

After securing a safe passage into the FA Cup fourth round with a win away to AFC Wimbledon, Liverpool returned to league duties with an away trip to face Sunderland.

Both sides looked to make a good start to the first weekend of the new year and it was the visiting Reds that made the better start of the two sides. A clever run from Lazar Markovic in the ninth minute allowing him to advance into the box and play a one-to with Fabio Borini which led to the Serbian tapping into the net past Costel Pantilimon.

Sunderland looked to respond rapidly with a free-kick just four minutes later but despite a long range effort from Seb Larsson, Simon Mignolet was able to save comfortably. Liverpool came close to notching a second strike with Steven Gerrard's 24th minute shot deflected past the post before a curling free kick from the Reds captain was tipped over by Pantilimon. 

Lazar Markovic came achingly close to a stellar second when a nice attacking move saw him attempt a scissoring volley which cannoned back off the crossbar to the relief of the home defence who were lucky to remain only a goal behind when Jordan Henderson swept a shot at goal in the 37th minute which ricocheted off the post but had come after an handball in the build-up.

Liverpool should have gone into the interval with a two goal lead when a clever run from Fabio Borini saw him advance on goal and round Pantilimon but his shot missed the target from close range. Sunderland's hopes of a good start to the second half suffered a harsh blow as Liam Bridcutt was sent off for a second booking after a foul on Emre Can just three minutes after the interval.

Despite being a man down, Sunderland could have drawn level just four minutes later when Adam Johnson thundered a shot at goal from 25 yards which to his dismay cannoned back off the crossbar. Liverpool continued to look for a second and wrap up the points and came close with a header from Dejan Lovren via a Philippe Coutinho corner before Mario Balotelli turn and shot in the 70th minute failed to trouble Pantilimon.

Liverpool held on to secure the win and continue their unbeaten start to the year with Aston Villa at home next on the horizon.