After a week of disappointment, the Reds bounced back at Sunderland with a well-deserved 2-0 victory. Goals in each distinctly different halves provided Liverpool with three points and a clean sheet away from home. Plus, we were treated to Momo’s first Liverpool strike and Andriy’s first Premier League goal.
While the scoreline could have been more, you’ll register no complaints from these quarters. Liverpool got the job done and that’s all I can really ask. Sunderland played a tough game (literally), proving that while they may not have as much talent as many Premier League sides, they’re certainly willing to play with them.
Relegation is no sure thing for Roy Keane’s side. If they could keep up the same defensive pressure they showed in the first 35 minutes through a full 90, it will certainly make life difficult for their opponents. But, ultimately, Sunderland need to find goals. They don’t have close to enough talent up front to pose defenses a real threat. Bringing in Andy Cole is not going to be the proper fix to that problem.
For the record, I was only three minutes late in tuning in to the game. Brewing coffee cost me precious seconds. Not bad considering I wasn’t asleep until roughly 1:30 – 2am.
You can find a full match report here. My thoughts on today’s win:
- Hyypia gets welcomed back to action with a bloody nose, which can’t be brought under control. So, he got a 15-minute cameo and Agger’s rest was cut short.
- Early on, there’s too much long ball from the Reds. And, they’re not just long, but high, lofting balls.
- 20 minutes in, Kieran Richardson is subbed off. Interesting to see two early subs in any game. I’m not sure what injury the former Man United man picked up or was carrying, but Sunderland can’t afford to lose any offensive minds.
- Agger backed Reina up nicely to keep Stubbs’ out of goal in Sunderland’s one true threat from open play.
- Roy Keane really gives his gum the business. He was working it harder than a cow on his cud.
- Momo breaks his duck after a heads-up lay-off by Voronin! Just moments after he scuffed one that dribbled off his foot, Momo scored a fine line-drive between Craig Gordon and the near post. That’s certainly a (first) goal he can be proud of.
- I think we can rest assured that Torres is well-equipped to handle the physical nature of English football.
- The goal seemed to encourage Liverpool to put Sunderland under more pressure.
- Torres was unlucky not to score right before the halftime whistle. An intelligent play by Voronin, who picked the ball up outside the 18 to play Pennant into the box, who in return sets up Torres. The delivery was slightly low, so El Nino’s header wasn’t as powerful as it could have been. The ball squirted under Craig Gordon, who recovered to keep it from going over the line.
- It got away from them a bit in the last ten minutes of the half, but Sunderland did a good job of making the game difficult for Liverpool, constantly challenging every possession, making the game physical, stifling movement and not allowing the match to get into any prolonged natural flow or rhythm.
- The game was dramatically more open in the opening minutes of the second half as Sunderland seemed to have decided they couldn’t keep their foot on the pedal for the duration.
- Torres split two defenders and accelerated through them on a break-away. A beautiful sight, but Gordon had the angle covered and the shot was right at him.
- The second half provided Liverpool with much more space in the midfield, allowing them to dribble up the gut and keep the ball on the rug. A shocking contrast to what we saw in the first 45.
- Torres almost make something out of a blind long ball from Agger. I think I’m developing a man-crush.
- Carra took a solid enough knock to warrant attention from the physio. I’d have thought it would have taken a gunshot wound to sideline Carra during a match.
- Riise would have come on for Babel, but Carra couldn’t continue. Once he got off, the vice-captain had some words for Rafa about making him wait.
- Voronin found his first Premier League goal! After a half of counter-attacking, finally Liverpool finish Sunderland off. Voronin displays his class by creating the space to fire past Gordon.
- Kuyt logs a couple minutes, subbing on for Babel. A quiet, if not disappointing, day for the young Dutchman. He did show some flashes of great technique on the ball, but his education continues.
- The official kicked it old-school for the final minutes, shedding an apparently malfunctioning headset.
- Hyypia was wearing a Yankees hat on the bench. Really, Sami?
- Sunderland defend well (McShane should make Keane quite proud) and should give plenty of teams a hard time this season.
- I’m anxious to see Alonso find his true form.
- Voronin should have been more selfish in injury time, with a clear line to goal, he opted to try and set Torres up. Nice intentions with the game’s outcome sealed, but the word ‘ruthless’ springs to mind.
- Credit to Gordon, he made some quality saves, but Liverpool’s finishing needs to be sharper.
(Links provided courtesy of 101 Great Goals)
Not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, but the team, in general, never shifted into top gear. Much of that can probably be attributed to Sunderland’s tenacious play, although they were a softer touch in the second half.
No Benayoun, not even on the bench. He’d be wise to keep his, and his agent’s, lip buttoned if he wants to see action. Rafa is not going to allow the balance to be upset by any player’s sense of entitlement.
I was disappointed not to see Mascherano, but Sissoko had a fine game and there was no real call for Javier’s services.
We’ll see how serious Carra’s injury is, but knock on wood, I reckon he’ll be ready to go versus Toulose. But, just in case we need him, Sami’s nose will have hopefully stopped bleeding by then.
All in all, a professional result and worth the early wake-up. Liverpool broke down a stubborn team and got what they deserved from the match.
Next up, Toulouse at Anfield on Tuesday.