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Liverpool 2-0 Sunderland

By Mandeep Sanghera

Liverpool striker David Ngog (centre) scored the opener in his team's win over Sunderland
Ngog (centre) is congratulated after his goal against Sunderland

Liverpool halted their recent damaging league decline with a victory over Sunderland at Anfield.

The Reds should have gone behind but Kenwyne Jones had his shot saved when one-on-one with keeper Jose Reina.

They were eventually made to pay for the miss when David Ngog side-footed in his first league goal for the Reds after Steven Gerrard's headed pass.

Yossi Benayoun slotted in a second to secure the win after keeper Marton Fulop had spilled Ngog's cross.

The win was just the tonic Liverpool needed as they attempted to get over the hangover of suffering a massive setback to their title hopes with defeat at Middlesbrough last Saturday.

It also saw them complete the type of win they have failed to manage at home this season as they broke down stubborn defensive opponents to earn the three points.


But the belief and confidence the Reds showed at the end was in stark contrast from their start to the game.

There was a sombre feel about the home side and Sunderland should have capitalised when Jones touched the ball past Martin Skrtel before racing clean through on goal.

Benitez pleased with Reds reaction

The striker had only Reina to beat but saw his effort saved as the Reds keeper guessed correctly by diving low to his right.

Liverpool arose slightly from their stupor and, although they began to dominate possession, their was little industry or invention about their play.

Benayoun showed some promise on the right of the Reds midfield but epitomised his team's play with his final ball lacking in both direction and a cutting edge.

Sunderland had come to contain their opponents and were doing so in an assured manner.

When the Reds did threaten a goal, Black Cats keeper Fulop kept them at bay as he impressively palmed Albert Riera's deflected shot off Grant Leadbitter wide.

Midfielder Javier Mascherano, playing at right-back for the Anfield side, saw his long-range shot skim the top of the crossbar shortly before the break.

We've got enough to stay up - Sbragia

It seemed to be developing into a familiar story for the Reds but Frenchman Ngog made the vital breakthrough for the home side after Gerrard steered Riera's cross into his path.

The goal seemed to lift a weight off Liverpool's shoulders and give the players an injection of purpose and energy.

Sunderland tried to muster a response but struggled retain possession before Fulop's error from Ngog's hooked cross allowed a grateful Benayoun to slot home.

The win leaves Liverpool third in the Premier League and four points behind leaders Manchester United, who have two games in hand.

Sunderland manager Ricky Sbragia:

"Jones should have scored - and on any other day, he probably would have done so.

"If we had scored then the game would have been very different. Liverpool would have become anxious and we would have given ourselves something to hang on to.

"Liverpool would have been under pressure. We did okay in the first half - but once they went ahead, it was always going to be difficult.

"We had to gamble by bringing on more strikers. But that gave them space - and once they scored the second, the game was going away from us."

Liverpool: Reina, Mascherano, Skrtel, Carragher, Insua, Benayoun (El Zhar 90), Gerrard (Babel 82), Alonso, Riera, Kuyt, Ngog (Lucas 70).
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Dossena, Hyypia, Aurelio.

Booked: Ngog.

Goals: Ngog 52, Benayoun 65.

Sunderland: Fulop, Ben-Haim, Ferdinand, Collins, McCartney, Malbranque (Edwards 81), Whitehead, Reid, Leadbitter (Cisse 62), Richardson, Jones (Murphy 76).
Subs Not Used: Gordon, Bardsley, Davenport, Healy.

Booked: Whitehead.

Att: 41,587

Ref: Mark Halsey (Lancashire).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Steven Gerrard on 6.48 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Liverpool & Chelsea in title vow
04 Mar 09 |  Premier League
Premier League as it happened
03 Mar 09 |  Premier League
Tuesday's football photos
03 Mar 09 |  Football

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