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Sunday, 25 November, 2001, 15:55 GMT
Heskey sinks Sunderland
Liverpool striker Emile Heskey is all smiles after scoring his first goal in 20 games against Sunderland
Heskey is all smiles after scoring for Liverpool
Liverpool 1-0 Sunderland

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Emile Heskey ended his goal drought with a simple header as Liverpool beat Sunderland at Anfield.

The Liverpool striker had failed to score in his previous 17 Premiership games.

But he made sure assistant manager Phil Thompson's unbeaten league record remained in tact.

The only blot on an otherwise satisfactory afternoon's work - which sees Liverpool stay top - was Dietmar Hamann's sending off for a wreckless challenge on Bernt Haas.

Liverpool, keen to shake off the disappointment of their midweek defeat to Barcelona, started brightly with some open, free-flowing football.

22 mins: Emile Heskey ends goal drought with a header

But their first real chance came courtesy of a more direct route.

Jerzy Dudek kicked downfield, Heskey headed on and the ball fell kindly to Robbie Fowler.

The Liverpool striker, in for the rested Michael Owen, wasted little time in dispatching a powerfully-struck shot, which hit the side netting.

Fowler should have done better minutes later but, unmarked in the area, he headed straight at Thomas Sorensen.

It was a fantastic performance by the team
Liverpool assistant manager Phil Thompson

Sunderland did their utmost to settle into some pattern of play and enjoyed the greater possession.

Yet Liverpool exerted the greater threat and delivered with 22 minutes on the clock.

Sunderland defender Haas brought down Vladimir Smicer on the left-hand side of the area.

And from the resulting Danny Murphy free-kick, Heskey headed home his first goal in 20 games for club and country.

Spirited defence

Liverpool had chances to extend their lead, with Steven Gerrard dragging his shot across the face of goal after some slick interplay.

As the match progressed, Sunderland gradually found their way into the Liverpool half.

And Kevin Phillips went close with two long-range efforts, the second of which Dudek did well to push away for a corner.

We were just not good enough and Liverpool looked good on the break
Sunderland boss Peter Reid

The first-half - which had seen Haas and Gerrard cautioned - ended on a sour note.

Hamann was shown a straight red card for a dangerous two-footed challenge on Haas.

Fowler was sacrificed after the interval, with Gary McAllister brought on to slot into Hamann's midfield berth.

Sunderland failed to make their numerical advantage count, indeed the 10 men of Liverpool looked the likelier to score.

Sunderland's Emerson Thome was guilty of some sloppy defending, which created needless problems for his team-mates.

Liverpool's Vladimir Smicer and Sunderland's Jason McAteer
An unhappy return to Anfield for McAteer

But the Brazilian's errors were nothing compared to the glaring miss by substitute McAllister.

Gerrard released Smicer down the left wing with a beautifully-executed cross-field ball.

The Czech midfielder found an unmarked McAllister in the Sunderland area.

But with the goal at his mercy, McAllister blasted the ball over the crossbar and into the Kop.

Peter Reid made three attacking substitutions in an attempt to get the equaliser.

The Black Cats pushed forward, but Liverpool defended well and made good use of their possession.

Gerrard played another defence-splitting pass which Heskey just failed to reach ahead of the oncoming Sorensen.

Lilian Laslandes tested Dudek in the closing moments of the game, but Liverpool held firm to maintain their impressive league form of late.

Liverpool: Dudek, Carragher, Henchoz, Hyypia, Riise, Murphy, Hamann, Gerrard, Smicer, Heskey, Fowler. Subs: Berger, McAllister, Kirkland, Wright, Litmanen.

Sunderland: Sorensen, Haas, Williams, Thome, Gray, McAteer, McCann, Thirlwell, Arca, Quinn, Phillips. Subs: Laslandes, Schwarz, McCartney, Butler, Macho.

Referee: S Bennett (Kent).

BBC Sport's John Murray
"Liverpool stretched their Premiership unbeaten run to nine matches"
Liverpool assistant manager Phil Thompson
"The result is a great lift"
Sunderland striker Niall Quinn
"We're not too happy with the performance"
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.


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