Premier League
SunderlandSunderland0LiverpoolLiverpool1

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool

By Mandeep SangheraBBC Sport
Liverpool wing-back Lazar Markovic (centre) scores for his side at Sunderland
Markovic (centre) joined Liverpool for £20m last summer from Benfica
  • Liverpool four points off top-four spot
  • Sunderland have one win in 11 league games
  • Injured Steven Gerrard taken off at half-time
  • Liam Bridcutt sent off for Black Cats

Liverpool's challenge for a top-four spot continued to gather pace as they claimed a third win in four league games by beating 10-man Sunderland.

Lazar Markovic poked in a shot to put the visitors in front.

A volley from the Serb also hit the crossbar, while Sunderland had Liam Bridcutt sent off for two bookings.

The home side's Adam Johnson hit the crossbar but Liverpool held on, despite losing skipper Steven Gerrard at half-time after he felt his hamstring.

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool: Gus Poyet to make 'strong decisions'

It was only a sixth clean sheet in 37 games for Liverpool and they had to endure a nervous finish following their failure to turn their dominance and numerical advantage into more goals.

But, despite Sunderland carrying a greater threat with 10 men than 11, the Black Cats struggled to create chances and have managed just one home win in 11 top-flight outings so far this season.

The Stadium of Light side were given a reprieve in the opening minutes when a piercing Philippe Coutinho pass found Markovic, who went down under a Wes Brown challenge.

The Reds were furious at referee Craig Pawson's decision not to award a penalty, but were grateful when the official played advantage in the build-up to their intricate opener.

Fabio Borini appeared to have been fouled just outside the area, but Pawson allowed play to continue and Markovic slotted a shot past keeper Costel Pantilimon for his first league goal for the club.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard
Gerrard was substituted at half-time for the first time since October 2001 against Leicester City

Markovic almost added a spectacular second when he produced an acrobatic 20-yard volley which hit the crossbar and keeper Pantilimon before going wide.

Borini - who scored 10 goals on loan at Sunderland last season - latched on to a Emre Can pass only to send a shot from a tight angle into the side-netting.

Sunderland managed just one attempt on goal compared to Liverpool's eight in the first half and their cause was not helped when they had midfielder Bridcutt sent off for second yellow after a foul on Can.

Nevertheless, the home side rallied and came closest to an equaliser when a swerving 30-yard Johnson shot came back off the Liverpool crossbar.

Sunderland manager Gus Poyet:

"If you go by the rules then I can go with the referee because they are both yellow cards for Liam Bridcutt.

Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool: Brendan Rodgers on Raheem Sterling break

"Incredible. When you are 11 v 11 and have a better chance, sometimes you are a little bit too relaxed because you think it is even. Then when you find yourself down to 10 the players bring something extra. It is a shame that we didn't do that in the first half.

"We did practically nothing in the first half apart from wait for Liverpool to score. Then we had a go."

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers:

"Our only disappointment against Sunderland was we didn't have the extra goals to show for our domination. We had real good control of the game.

"Offensively our game was very good. We got a very good goal and should have had a penalty - it looked a clear penalty and we had one or two other chances as well.

"Steven Gerrard just felt a bit tight in his hamstring. He has played a lot of games.

"He was outstanding in the first half. We don't need to risk it as we have got a big second half of the season coming up and he is very important for us."

Liverpool wing-back Lazar Markovic (centre) scores for his side at Sunderland
Markovic has scored in two of his last four away games for the Reds in all competitions
Liverpool striker Fabio Borini shows his disappointment after missing a chance against Sunderland
Liverpool striker Fabio Borini has yet to score this season
Sunderland midfielder Liam Bridcutt (right) is sent off for his second booking against Liverpool
Since the start of last season, only Newcastle (nine) have seen more players sent off in the league than Sunderland (eight)

Line-ups

Sunderland

  • 1Pantilimon
  • 27VerginiBooked at 28mins
  • 16O'Shea
  • 5Brown
  • 3van Aanholt
  • 4BridcuttBooked at 49mins
  • 11JohnsonSubstituted forMandronat 86'minutes
  • 7Larsson
  • 14Gomez Garcia-Penche
  • 23GiaccheriniSubstituted forBuckleyat 77'minutes
  • 10WickhamSubstituted forGrahamat 77'minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Jones
  • 19Graham
  • 20Álvarez
  • 25Mannone
  • 30Buckley
  • 38Mandron
  • 42Agnew

Liverpool

  • 22Mignolet
  • 23Can
  • 37Skrtel
  • 17Sakho
  • 50Markovic
  • 14HendersonBooked at 54mins
  • 21Leiva
  • 18Moreno
  • 8GerrardSubstituted forLovrenat 45'minutesBooked at 55mins
  • 29BoriniBooked at 17minsSubstituted forBalotelliat 67'minutes
  • 10CoutinhoBooked at 36mins

Substitutes

  • 3Enrique Sanchez Diaz
  • 6Lovren
  • 9Lambert
  • 19Manquillo
  • 45Balotelli
  • 46Rossiter
  • 52Ward
Referee:
Craig Pawson
Attendance:
45,369

Match Stats

Home TeamSunderlandAway TeamLiverpool
Possession
Home47%
Away53%
Shots
Home5
Away21
Shots on Target
Home1
Away4
Corners
Home6
Away6
Fouls
Home12
Away11

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Sunderland 0, Liverpool 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Sunderland 0, Liverpool 1.

  3. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Jordi Gómez (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

  4. Post update

    Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Alberto Moreno.

  5. Post update

    Attempt missed. Mikael Mandron (Sunderland) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by William Buckley with a cross.

  6. Post update

    Lazar Markovic (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Jordi Gómez (Sunderland).

  8. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jordan Henderson.

  9. Post update

    Mario Balotelli (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  10. Post update

    Foul by Wes Brown (Sunderland).

  11. Substitution

    Substitution, Sunderland. Mikael Mandron replaces Adam Johnson.

  12. Post update

    Mario Balotelli (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Wes Brown (Sunderland).

  14. Post update

    Hand ball by William Buckley (Sunderland).

  15. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Danny Graham (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Wes Brown.

  16. Post update

    Attempt missed. Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.

  17. Post update

    Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  18. Post update

    Foul by John O'Shea (Sunderland).

  19. Post update

    Offside, Sunderland. Adam Johnson tries a through ball, but William Buckley is caught offside.

  20. Post update

    Attempt missed. Mario Balotelli (Liverpool) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Alberto Moreno with a cross.