Torres continued his magical summer after winning Euro 2008 with Spain
Spanish striker Fernando Torres struck a brilliant late winner as Liverpool made hard work of beating Sunderland.
Torres collected a Xabi Alonso pass, turned into space and rifled home a sensational drive into Craig Gordon's bottom right-hand corner from 25 yards.
Sunderland did not deserve to lose and Daryl Murphy headed their best chance straight at goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
Gordon saved from Yossi Benayoun and debutant Robbie Keane unintentionally blocked Torres' shot before his winner.
After a turbulent couple of weeks for Liverpool which led to speculation in Saturday's newspapers boss Rafa Benitez might quit the club, it was a much-needed early season boost for the Reds.
Benitez has been frustrated over their failed attempts to sign Aston Villa's Gareth Barry and they could only draw 0-0 against Standard Liege on Wednesday in their Champions League third qualifying round first-leg match.
Keane annoyed with late goal
But Torres' brilliant late finish gives them the perfect start to the league season and takes the pressure off Benitez, who reiterated his commitment to the club before the game. With summer signing Keane making his league debut up front alongside Torres, much was expected from Liverpool's £46m strikeforce.
But Keane failed to sparkle throughout and he was taken off six minutes before Torres' late strike.
It was Sunderland who created the best chances in a first half devoid of great quality, with El-Hadji Diouf in lively form on his debut against his old employers.
Benitez was content with his side's win
Diouf latched on to Sami Hyypia's weak back header early on, but Jamie Carragher managed to avert the danger just in the nick of time.
Soon after, Diouf sent over a lovely cross from the left that was begging to be headed in, but Murphy could only nod straight at Reina.
Liverpool slowly began to assert themselves in midfield and as Steven Gerrard saw more of the ball, so their threat grew.
The Reds wanted a penalty when Benayoun was felled in the box by Pascal Chimbonda, but referee Alan Wiley had already blown for Nyron Nosworthy's trip on Gerrard outside the box and the captain's free-kick flew straight into the wall.
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