Premier League
LiverpoolLiverpool2SunderlandSunderland2

Liverpool 2-2 Sunderland

By Neil JohnstonBBC Sport
Roberto Firmino heads Liverpool ahead against Sunderland
Liverpool have yet to win at Anfield in the Premier League in 2016

Thousands of Liverpool fans walked out of Anfield in protest at ticket prices as struggling Sunderland came from 2-0 behind to secure a crucial point.

Roberto Firmino headed the Reds in front after James Milner's clever cross before the goalscorer turned provider to allow Adam Lallana to tap home.

Fans were pouring out when Reds goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was beaten by Adam Johnson's curling free-kick.

Jermain Defoe completed the comeback after finishing from 10 yards.

Liverpool had striker Daniel Sturridge back on the substitutes bench after a damaged hamstring, but lost defender Dejan Lovren and midfielder Joe Allen to injury.

Relive the action from Anfield

Reaction from Saturday's Premier League games

Liverpool's defensive shortcomings hurt them again

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp missed this game after an operation to remove his appendix.

Liverpool fans
Liverpool were 2-0 up when thousands of fans headed for the exits after 77 minutes in protest at ticket prices

His side's defending will not have done his health any good whatsoever as the Reds capitulated in the final eight minutes following the walkout by fans.

Mignolet was at fault after being beaten all too easily by substitute Johnson's set-piece before Mamadou Sakho allowed Defoe to turn and score.

It was the same old story for the Reds, who are still without a Premier League home win in 2016.

They are also still hunting a first top-flight clean sheet of the calendar year, having conceded 14 times in the past six games.

Liverpool's top-five hopes vanishing

The Reds drop one place to ninth in the table, their inconsistent form not only testing the patience of fans but also hurting Liverpool's chances of qualifying for Europe.

Klopp's side will earn a place in the third qualifying round of next season's Europa League if they beat Manchester City in the League Cup final on 28 February.

However, their chances of qualifying via a top-five finish are rapidly diminishing.

They are 10 points off a top-four place and five adrift of fifth - having played a game more - after one win in six.

Can Sunderland stay up?

Sunderland remain four points from safety and have now gone 11 Premier League games without a clean sheet, longer than any other side currently.

Liverpool v Sunderland
Jermain Defoe's equaliser came moments after Sunderland won possession following a Liverpool throw-in by Nathaniel Clyne

But their late comeback will give manager Sam Allardyce and his side a huge lift for the remaining 13 games of the campaign.

The Black Cats still have to host Manchester United, Leicester City, Arsenal and Chelsea in addition to facing relegation rivals Newcastle and Norwich away.

However, Sunderland overcame the early loss of striker Duncan Watmore, who hobbled off injured, to claim a point that did not seem likely after Lallana's 70th-minute goal put Liverpool 2-0 in front.

Man of the match - Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)

Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino
Roberto Firmino was the liveliest player on the pitch, the Liverpool forward making it five goals in five Premier League games with a well taken header to give the Reds the lead.

What the managers said

Liverpool first-team development coach Pepijn Lijnders:

"In the last 10 minutes we dropped off too much and let them play longer balls.

"We felt that we were in control of the game and you see that one moment changes everything.

Protest did not affect team - Lijnders

"There are still eight to 10 minutes where you have to be calm and play, keep moving the ball into the final third, so when you lose it you can counter-press and stay higher up the pitch."

Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce:

"You think your day is over when you are 0-2 down at Anfield. But we fought back with two quality goals and got a point by not giving up.

"It was never say die until the end.

'Never say die' spirit pleases Sam Allardyce

"When we went two down it looked like the fear had left us and we played better with the ball. We created chances and it was the quality of goals that got us a point.

"We won't get goals back like that every game but today it was a precious point for us."

The stats you need to know

  • Only Sergio Aguero (7) has scored more Premier League goals in 2016 than Jermain Defoe (6).
  • Roberto Firmino has been involved in more goals than any other Liverpool player this season (11, six goals and five assists).
  • Firmino has been involved in seven goals in his past five Premier League games for the Reds (five goals, two assists).
  • James Milner recorded his third assist in his past five league games. No Premier League player has more in 2016 than him (level with Adam Johnson and Riyad Mahrez).
  • Adam Lallana has scored in two of his past three Premier League games, after not scoring in his previous 19 appearances in the competition.
  • Sunderland extended their run of scoring in eight consecutive league away games.
  • Jermain Defoe has scored six goals in his past six league appearances for Sunderland.

What next?

Liverpool are likely to make a number of changes for Tuesday's FA Cup fourth-round replay at West Ham United (19:45 GMT) before visiting bottom club Aston Villa (14:05) in the Premier League on 14 February. Sunderland host Manchester United in the league on 13 February (12:45)

Line-ups

Liverpool

  • 22Mignolet
  • 2Clyne
  • 6LovrenSubstituted forK Touréat 12'minutes
  • 17Sakho
  • 18MorenoBooked at 81mins
  • 14HendersonSubstituted forLeivaat 86'minutes
  • 23Can
  • 7Milner
  • 20Lallana
  • 24AllenSubstituted forIbeat 45+2'minutes
  • 11Firmino

Substitutes

  • 4K Touré
  • 9Benteke
  • 15Sturridge
  • 21Leiva
  • 33Ibe
  • 38Flanagan
  • 52Ward

Sunderland

  • 25Mannone
  • 2JonesSubstituted forYedlinat 75'minutes
  • 23Koné
  • 16O'Shea
  • 3van Aanholt
  • 27KirchhoffSubstituted forJohnsonat 66'minutes
  • 41WatmoreSubstituted forN'Doyeat 26'minutesBooked at 39mins
  • 6Cattermole
  • 21M'Vila
  • 22Khazri
  • 18Defoe

Substitutes

  • 5Brown
  • 8Rodwell
  • 10N'Doye
  • 11Johnson
  • 13Pickford
  • 20Toivonen
  • 24Yedlin
Referee:
Robert Madley
Attendance:
44,179

Match Stats

Home TeamLiverpoolAway TeamSunderland
Possession
Home71%
Away29%
Shots
Home16
Away7
Shots on Target
Home5
Away2
Corners
Home7
Away2
Fouls
Home4
Away12

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Liverpool 2, Sunderland 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Liverpool 2, Sunderland 2.

  3. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Adam Johnson (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Patrick van Aanholt.

  4. Post update

    Attempt missed. Jordon Ibe (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Mamadou Sakho.

  5. Post update

    Lucas Leiva (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Wahbi Khazri (Sunderland).

  7. Post update

    Offside, Liverpool. Adam Lallana tries a through ball, but Roberto Firmino is caught offside.

  8. Goal!

    Goal! Liverpool 2, Sunderland 2. Jermain Defoe (Sunderland) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Wahbi Khazri.

  9. Substitution

    Substitution, Liverpool. Lucas Leiva replaces Jordan Henderson.

  10. Post update

    Offside, Liverpool. Nathaniel Clyne tries a through ball, but Roberto Firmino is caught offside.

  11. Goal!

    Goal! Liverpool 2, Sunderland 1. Adam Johnson (Sunderland) from a free kick with a left footed shot to the bottom right corner.

  12. Booking

    Alberto Moreno (Liverpool) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Alberto Moreno (Liverpool).

  14. Post update

    Wahbi Khazri (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  15. Post update

    Attempt missed. Adam Lallana (Liverpool) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Nathaniel Clyne.

  16. Post update

    Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Lamine Koné.

  17. Post update

    Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Lamine Koné (Sunderland).

  19. Substitution

    Substitution, Sunderland. DeAndre Yedlin replaces Billy Jones.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Alberto Moreno (Liverpool).