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Sunderland AFC v liverpool (h)...
match report

New Year new Sunderland as David Moyes’ side twice fought back from behind to draw 2-2 with title chasers Liverpool at the SOL on Monday afternoon. When Daniel Strurridge opened the scoring with twenty minutes played many feared Sunderland would capitulate again against Jurgen Klopp’s side only for Jermaine Defoe to equalise from the penalty spot five minutes later. The lads gave the visitors a tough afternoon although this looked to be in vain when Sadio Mane scored with twenty minutes to go but Sunderland refused to lie down and Jermaine Defoe salvaged a point with his second penalty of the game with five minutes remaining.

After a dismal showing on New Year’s Eve at Turf Moor Sunderland had the opportunity to bounce back quickly although the visit to Wearside of Jurgen Klopp’s side would offer a stern test. Klopp branded Sunderland the most defensive team he has ever faced after his side beat us 2-0 at Anfield in November but the German was probably rubbing his hands at the prospect off moving in within three points of leaders Chelsea.

The shocking injury situation got worse at Burnley on Saturday with Lamine Kone and Victor Anichebe both picking up injuries in the defeat. There was a still a doubt over Jason Denayer who missed the Burnley game with a hamstring strain whilst Billy Jones was suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season at Turf Moor. Moyes was down to the bare bones and made three changes to the side with Love, Rodwell, and N’Dong returning. Liverpool were almost full strength only missing skipper and former Sunderland star Jordan Henderson.

The game started with the visitors attacking for the opening stages although it was Sunderland who had the best effort on goal when Defoe found space on the edge of the box and forced Mignolet into a low save with a dipping shot. The visitors then forged a real good opening when Sturridge got in behind the Sunderland defence but his low right food shot was turned away from danger by Mannone who was looking to put behind him a horror show at Turf Moor. Mannone was forced into another acrobatic save soon after when former Newcastle midfielder Wijnaldum tried to beat him from range but Mannone tipped it over.

It wasn’t all one way traffic though as at the other end Jack Rodwell forced Mignolet into a save with a well struck effort from the edge of the box which the Belgian did well to clear from goal with Jermaine Defoe lurking for a rebound. Mannone was called into action again to deny a curling shot from Sturridge from the edge of the box before the visitors did take the lead after twenty minutes from a set piece.

The corner, won after Larsson did well tracking back Lallana, was swung into the box before being hooked back goal wards speculatively by Lovren. The ball bounced kindly for Sturridge who glanced a header over Mannone into the back of the net to give Liverpool the lead. To be fair to Sunderland they responded well to the set back and drew level five minutes later when we were awarded a penalty when N’Dong was tripped in the box. The powerful midfielder tried a few step over’s before being clipped and the ref had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Fabio Borini and Jermain Defoe appeared to be having a discussion over who was on penalty duties but it was Defoe who took it and made no mistake firing a great penalty into Mignolet’s right hand corner. The Belgian keeper went the right way but the accuracy and power was too much. We almost took the lead straight from the restart when Sunderland capitalised on a slack pass from the Liverpool defence but Defoe was thwarted by Mignolet when he tried to round him before Borini’s shot was deflected wide.

Liverpool ended the half back on top and Mannone had to be alert to make another couple of saves from Sturridge but it remained level at the break. Klopp made a change at half time with James Milner replaced by Alberto Moreno and Liverpool went closest in the second half to scoring again when Nathaniel Clyne flashed a low cross across goal but Mane failed to read it and we managed to clear.

At the other end we had a shout for a penalty waved away when Januzaj tried to cross with Can accused of blocking the cross with his arm. For visitors it probably would have been harsh as he was so close to Januzaj with his arms by his side. With twenty five minutes to go Moyes made his first change of the game with Jack Rodwell replaced by Javier Manquillo. To be fair to the much maligned Rodwell he had a good game in the midfield alongside N’Dong and was probably only replaced as he is not match fit and was walking a disciplinary tightrope after picking up a yellow card in the first half.

Manquillo went to the right hand side of midfield with Larsson moving central but it was again the visitors who almost took the lead. Sturridge and Clyne again combined with the forward played in on goal with a clever back heel but he couldn’t beat Mannone. Sturridge tried to clip the ball past Mannone with his stronger left foot but the Italian did excellently to parry the ball over the bar.

This appeared to be in vain as moments later Liverpool retook the lead in what appeared another preventable goal. A Liverpool corner was swung into the box away from goal but headed goal wards for Mane to pounce and easily beat Mannone with a simple finish. Sunderland appealed for offside but the protests fell on deaf ears before Moyes made his second change of the game with Khazri replacing Januzaj as he looked to salvage something.

Sunderland did salvage a point with five minutes to go and it was again from the penalty spot after Liverpool were penalised for handball. Sunderland had won a free kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the box which Larsson and van Aanholt but stood over. It was the Swede who tried his luck from twenty wards but his curling effort was blocked by the jumping wall, Larsson instantly appealed claiming it was blocked by an arm and the ref agreed pointing to the spot.

Defoe and Borini again appeared to have a discussion over who would take the penalty and again Defoe took the spot kick and emphatically drew the lad’s level with a blistering shot which sent Mignolet the wrong way. There were five minutes of injury time which were played out with Djilobodji doing well to recover from a head knock to see Sunderland over the line as with only youngsters on the bench it would have been a baptism of fire had he had to go off.

Final Score: Sunderland 2 Liverpool 2

ALS Man of the Match: Didier N’Dong

Aidan Crowe 

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