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Summary

  1. Final Premier League game of 2015
  2. Sunderland seven points off safety
  3. Reds had lost last two PL away games

Live Reporting

By Gary Rose

All times stated are UK

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Right that's Premier League football in 2015 over with. It has been one heck of an unpredictable end to the year, setting things up nicely for the start of 2016. That (in Premier League football terms) begins on Saturday. 

Have a Happy New Year and see you on the other side!

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Only way Liverpool will be considered title challengers is, if they get Suarez back. Top4 will do. #bbcfootball #lfc

Will Sunderland survive?

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Table
BBC

The table makes for pleasant reading for Liverpool fans, not so much for Sunderland supporters.

Will they stay up? A tough, tough ask.

Liverpool for the title?

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Table
.

Are Liverpool title contenders? Jurgen Klopp stopped short of saying they are but the Reds are level on points with Manchester United who, for much of the season, have been tipped as challengers...

Manager reaction

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Sam Allardyce
Reuters

A bit more from Big Sam: "Some encouragement, seeing the lads battling and fighting for themselves and trying to get a win or at least a point but a bit of misfortune just after half-time took it away from us.

"I thought the lads tried their best and you can't ask for more than that.

"We need to try and strengthen the squad. That work has already started but it is very, very difficult. Hopefully we will be successful sooner rather than later in January."

Manager reaction

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce, speaking to BBC Sport: "It was the luckiest touch of Adam Lallana, straight to Christian Benteke's path. He hit it into the floor and it took a bounce over Vito Mannone's legs. A couple of slices of luck but when you are down and out things go against you."

Manager reaction

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Juergen Klopp celebrates
Reuters

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, speaking to BBC Sport: "Three points, really hard work. This time of the year is really intense, the players have to fight really hard with games every few days.

"It is not the best we can do, we know this, but we had to fight. We knew about Sunderland's situation. Everyone wants to end the year positively, we can and Sunderland can't but we take these points, go home, sleep two times and onto the next game.

"Football is a lot of things. You have to develop your style but at the end you need results. It is a good day."

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Two 1 on 1 misses will be playing on #Benteke mind now. Not good. Not sure why he didn't lift it or go around him there #LFC #bbcfootball

Benteke scoring the goal that count. Don't worry about the miss. #lfc #bbcfootball

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Sunderland
Getty Images

A good end to a good year for Simon Mignolet statistically. Sixteen clean sheets in 2015, although he won't have had many easier games than this one.

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Danny Mills

BBC Radio 5 live at the Stadium of Light

Juergen Klopp talks with Christian Benteke
Reuters

"Liverpool were the better side across the 90 minutes and had glorious chances to finish the game.

"For Sunderland, the confidence and belief went after conceding just 22 seconds into the second half and they never really threatened the Liverpool goal after that."

FULL-TIME

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Yann M'Vila looks dejected
Reuters

Drama at the end, but Liverpool hold on to take victory. A happy end to 2015 for Liverpool, who move level on points with sixth-place Manchester United.

For Sunderland, it is a fifth straight defeat. A miserable end to a miserable first half of the season. 

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Vito Mannone heads
Getty Images

Just over the head of Vito Mannone! 

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

A late, late corner for Sunderland and one of the greatest sights in football ensues. The keeper is up!

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Kolo Toure with what may be his only touch of the game, smacks the ball out of play. 

Still, play goes on...

SUBSTITUTION

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp doesn't want to give Sunderland the chance to get back into this. He brings on Kolo Toure for Roberto Firmino, who is in no rush to go off.

What a miss

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Christian Benteke is through on goal, surely 2-0? 

He's played through just inside his own half and races towards goal, he just has the keeper to beat...shoots straight at him. Terrible miss.

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

This is depressing stuff from Sunderland, they look a beaten team. There's no urgency or desire to get back into this game.

Four minutes of stoppage time but plenty of Sunderland fans have had enough and have made for the exit.

CLOSE!

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Jordon Ibe shoots
Reuters

This should have been game, set and match. 

Jordon Ibe has all the time in the world as he receives the ball inside the area from Roberto Firmini. Ibe works some space for himself but shoots over from eight yards. 

Should have got it on target at least.

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Ooof. A nasty challenge by Jeremain Lens on Mamadou Sakho. The Liverpool defender is down on the ground and it is a nervy moment for the visitors. Sakho has been great tonight but eventually he is up and good to continue.

SUBSTITUTION

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Philippe Coutinho embaces Jurgen Klopp
Getty Images

 Jurgen Klopp makes a change as Philippe Coutinho is replaced by Jordon Ibe for the final few minutes of the game.

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Lee Cattermole appears to just give up as Adam Lallana breezes past him down the right. He cuts the ball back for Roberto Firmino, but his drive is blocked.

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Into the final 10 minutes. The home fans have found their voice and are roaring Sunderland to attack.  

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Danny Mills

BBC Radio 5 live at the Stadium of Light

Sam Allardyce reacts
Reuters

"Sunderland have to go for it. They have to throw caution to the wind and get the ball forward, even if it means going direct."

CLOSE!

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Simon Mignolet saves Duncan Watmore's shot
Reuters

What kind of clearance is this?

Roberto Firmino swings wildly at a corner and succeeds only in hitting the ball high into the air inside the Liverpool area. The ball falls at the feet of Duncan Watmore who shoots, but his effort is blocked.

A let-off for Liverpool. They need a second.  

YELLOW CARD

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Good work from Billy Jones, playing in an unfamiliar position, as he halts the run of Philippe Coutinho. Sunderland then break forward through the determined Duncan Watmore, prompting cheers from the crowd as he powers forward until Alberto Moreno goes in too heavy on him. Yellow card for the Liverpool man.

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Danny Mills

BBC Radio 5 live at the Stadium of Light

"Liverpool playing with freedom now, much more confidence and they can try things in the final third.

"Sunderland have not really offered anything and Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has not had a save to make in the second half.

"Sunderland need to bring in a decent centre forward. It is about risk and reward. The financial reward at the end of the season is enormous.

SUBSTITUTION

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

The last thing you need when you are struggling near the bottom of the table is a sizeable injury list, and Sam Allardyce loses a second player to an injury as Sebastian Coates has to go off and is replaced by DeAndre Yedlin.

Billy Jones looks to have gone into the middle of the defence, with Yedlin playing at full-back. It is a right patchwork defence now for Sunderland now, with a full-back having to play at centre-back. 

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Philippe Coutinho hasn't got his shooting boots on today as he sends a dipping effort from the edge of the area straight at Vito Mannone.

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

I have colleagues at BBC Sport towers who get particularly infuriated by corners that don't beat the first man. I hope they were not watching this game just now after a terrible one from Sunderland.

Luckily for the Black Cats, I didn't catch who took it. Blushes spared.

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Jeremain Lens
Reuters

Sam Allardyce has managed to finish his cup of tea, that's good. He decides it is time to make his second change of the game and on comes Jeremain Lens for Adam Johnson.

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

You feel Liverpool could do with a second to truly feel comfortable.

They have the chance to get that when Christian Benteke picks out Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian's first shot is blocked by Lee Cattermole before he launches the ball over at the second attempt.

SUBSTITUTION

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Jordan Henderson received a bit of treatment towards the end of the first half and it seems whatever issue he has is too much for him to continue. He is replaced by Lucas.

YELLOW CARD

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Emre Can commits a foul
Getty Images

 Emre Can brings down Fabio Borini midway inside the Liverpool half. As the referee is giving him a talking to and brandishing a yellow card, Jermain Defoe tries to sneak the ball forward a few yards. It makes no difference, as the free-kick is cleared.

Emre Can is booked
Getty Images

CLOSE!

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Sunderland, to their credit, respond by forcing Simon Mignolet into a save. 

Fabio Borini, who said before the game that he was desperate to score against his former side, shows great determination to pick his way between a couple of defenders before shooting straight at the Liverpool keeper.

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Sam Allardyce's half-time tea will have been spluttered all over the floor after that start to the second half.

Sunderland have been slow out of the blocks in recent games, and have been punished as a result. They managed to keep it together at the start of the first half, but that sluggishness raised its head there. Poor.

Key will be how they respond. Whatever plan Allardyce had in place, that's gone now.

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

BBC Newcastle's Sunderland summariser Gary Bennett: "We talked about the first half and starting the game correctly, well you've got to do the same in the second half. Somehow, Benteke's got behind Coates and Brown. Big Sam will be fuming."

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Sunderland's defending is woeful. Sam's still drinking his half-time tea. Poor bloke #SUNLIV #Benteke #LFC

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Danny Mills

BBC Radio 5 live at the Stadium of Light

Christian Benteke celebrates
Reuters

"Livepool won the ball on the edge of the centre circle. Christian Benteke inside the area tucks it away.

"That is a manager's nightmare. A lapse in concentration, giving the ball away and it was sloppy defending allowing an easy finish. 

"The most worrying thing is how full-back Patrick van Aanholt threw his hands up in the area and started looking at his centre-backs. Maybe some disharmony in the Sunderland defence."

Benteke takes advantage of napping defence

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

Christian Benteke scores
Getty Images

Crikey! Loads of people were still finishing off their half-time pies as Liverpool take the lead!

Liverpool slice through a sleepy Sunderland side, as Nathaniel Clyne's low ball is flicked through the defence by Adam Lallana and Christian Benteke finishes low from seven yards.