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Liverpool scrape through against Sunderland

Photo courtesy: Press Association
Photo courtesy: Press Association

In the end, one goal was all that was needed to ensure Liverpool ended 2015 on a positive note, recording back-to-back victories. After a 1-0 win over title hopefuls Leicester City, the Reds managed an identical scoreline against relegation candidates Sunderland. Once again, a Christian Benteke strike separated Liverpool from their opponents at the final whistle.

Benteke was hardly at their best, the 32 million pound summer signing not living up to his potential, a goal notwithstanding. The former Aston Villa striker missed a straightforward chance, like he did against Leicester, running clear on goal before hitting the ball straight at Sunderland keeper Vito Mannone.

However, Liverpool as a unit was cohesive, had the match under control, and managed a precious clean sheet. The result brings them up to seventh on the table, level on points with bitter rivals Manchester United, but with an inferior goal difference.

Meanwhile, Sunderland are staring at the abyss.

The home side put a much-improved display than in the 4-1 defeat to Manchester City. In the first half they were competitive and confindent. But it all unravelled as soon as the referee blew to begin the second half. 22 seconds in, Sam Allardyce’s conceded, and then never really looked to make a comeback.

The result leaves the Black Cats with an unenviable record of having let in 38 goals in 19 games. They are seven points from safety and sit at 19th on the league table.

Controversy

Five minutes from time, the game sparked into life, though not in the way the players, managers or supporters would have wanted.

Sunderland midfieldr Jermaine Lens crashed into Liverpool’s Mamadou Sakho, leaving the defender writhing in pain. The Liverpool staff engaged in an intense verbal duel with their home team counterparts. Lens was given a yellow card, while Sakho finished the match with a limp.

Klopp wasn’t pleased with only a yellow: “I don’t want to say now, ‘Come on, give him a red card’. I have no problem with this player, but if you go like that, everything can happen. That’s not allowed. For me, that’s a red card, finish, that’s it.”

Allardyce, typically, called a spade a spade: “He’s a soft German. It’s not a red card, it’s a yellow. It’s a foul.

“There was some foul and abusive language towards my staff that I didn’t like. It was all right, though, because we all shook hands and got on with it, which is what we have got to do.”

Of the game itself, Allardyce said: “There is 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.”

Klopp, on the other hand, was happy Liverpool got the three points: “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.”

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