Starting off the New Year was always going to be difficult after the shambles at Turf Moor, and we've been losing players like a Christmas tree loses needles, so a much improved performance was what we needed and what we got. After a sharp Liverpool start, it actually took an awful refereeing display to deny us three points with Defoe netting two penalties to level twice.
Tickets to our treatment room are going on Ebay for several thousand pounds after Saturday's horror show at Burnley, with players sleeping on trolleys in corridors, and with that in mind, the last thing we needed to kick off the New Year was a visit form a team like Liverpool. Will Denayer be fit after crying off the Turf Moor trip with a dodgy hamstring? Will Kone be fit after flattening the advertising hoardings? Will Anichebe make a miracle recovery from his hamstring problem? Oh, give over, this is Sunderland we’re talking about. We’ve used up all of our miracles for a while, I think.
Surely some of the "reserves", or development squad in today's parlance, will be involved, even if it is Liverpool and we don’t want the poor bairns to have a bad experience. Haway, that's what they're there for, and that's what happened way back in 1977 when we ran out of ideas and players. It's what started things off for Rowell, Arnott, and Elliott. OK, so that season ended badly, but at least we started scoring goals and winning a few games in style. Needs must and all that.
To be honest, I could list about twenty things that I'd rather have done than come to this one, but there was a bus on, I had a ticket... you know how it works.
Love O'Shea Papy PVA
Seb Rodders Ndong Januzzaj
We kicked off south, as it should be, and despite Liverpool having 90% of the early possession, we got the first shot away then should have done much better with a header which went off target. Vito had to go low to his right to palm a shot away, then soon after tip one over the bar. Good work after the dodgy stuff Turf Moor. It was a fairly frantic opening ten minutes, and we had a chance when Borini or Januzaj (it was a long way away, to be fair) saw their shot saved with twelve minutes on the clock. Five minutes later, Vito was down again to save well, then the visitors had a corner retaken (haway ref, it's either a free to us or them, you don’t get to try again just because you made an arse of the first one – but it wasn't his first dodgy decision of the afternoon). Nineteen minutes gone, in came the second effort and it was miskicked into the ground and bounced into the net. A tad unlucky, but we should really have dealt with it better.
Never mind, Ndong, having a decent afternoon, burst into the box from the right and was crowded out. Penalty, which was tucked just inside Ming's right-hand post for a deserved equaliser. That put us very much on the front foot and for all Liverpool's stepovers and shimmies, we could have gone ahead when Defoe ran out of space and Borini couldn’t quite get his shot right. Decent save from Ming anyway.
Milner was booked on the half hour, and the free, 35 yards out from Seb found a couple of our Lads offside, but Rodders' looping shot soon after was saved. The ref, and the linesman, both failed to see their corner being taken with the ball well outside the quadrant, just to wind up the home fans even more as the atmosphere built.
Overall we were well worth being level at the break. Three added minutes brought nothing new to the game.
We started the second half as lively as we could, and ten minutes in came the big taking (or swearing if you were anywhere near me) point as a Liverpool hand most certainly moved towards a ball into the box from our right. Nothing doing from the ref, who was more interested in covering his Liverpool tattoo than giving one of the season's most obvious penalties. We replaced Rodders, who'd had a decent afternoon, with Manquillo and shifted Love a bit further forwards. They brought on Origi, who quickly brought a fine save from Vito at the expense of a corner, which we didn’t clear and there was their second on 71. Bugger.
With ten to go, on came Khazri for Januzzaj, as Sturridge was crying for a hanky off his mam and trying to get the game held up. A good ball in to Defoe saw him turn into the box and have his legs taken away. Free kick smashed into the all and onto a hand. Penalty, nee bother.
Up stepped the wee man and smote it past Ming for the well-deserved equaliser. Papy took a bang to the heid, for which the ref gave a free to Liverpool, adding to the five added minutes but we weren't going to lose the point we'd fought so hard to win back.
Man of the Match? Fine afternoon for Ndong, good day for Love, but Defoe was cooler than a Borini in the fridge when it Mattered.
Keep the Faith. Game back on
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