Gerrard rescues point for Liverpool against Sunderland
A magnificent header from Steven Gerrard saved Liverpool from further embarrassment this week as Roy Hodgson’s men were held by Sunderland at Anfield.
Dirk Kuyt returned to the Merseysiders’ starting line-up after being sidelined for a handful of games, and it was the Dutchman who gave the home side the best possible start in the opening moments.
After Sunderland were awarded a free-kick Michael Turner looked to roll the ball back to goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to take the set piece, but as he passed back towards the Kop Fernando Torres intercepted, played it to Kuyt and the Dutchman slotted it in to an open goal, with Stuart Atwell awarding the goal after conferring with his assistant.
Throughout the early stages of the first-half Liverpool looked confident going forward, with Sunderland rarely being offered the opportunity to mount an attack on Pepe Reina’s goal. But with 25 minutes gone Christian Poulsen was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the box and Darren Bent confidently placed the resulting spot-kick under Pepe Reina.
Within minutes of Sunderland’s equaliser Liverpool took another blow, with Paul Konchesky seemingly injuring his ankle when diving in for a tackle. It forced Roy Hodgson to take off the new signing and bring on Daniel Agger to fill the gap on the left side of the Reds’ defence.
The remainder of the first half saw the Black Cats come to life, pushing forward and finding themselves in good positions in and around the Liverpool area. But the visitor’s inability to deliver a precise final ball restricted their efforts on goal, with Bent rarely having the opportunity to add to his three league goals this season.
The start of the second-half saw Danny Welbeck go one-on-one with Reina, with the Liverpool goalkeeper seemingly wiping out the midfielder in his failed attempt to get the ball. But referee Stuart Atwell awarded Liverpool a goal-kick much to the dismay of the Sunderland players.
Seconds later Nedum Onuoha made a break down the right, playing a swinging ball in to the box which Bent beat Glen Johnson to in order to head past Reina and give Sunderland a lead in the early minutes of the second period.
As Sunderland looked to be pushing for a third, Liverpool managed a break forward, with Torres picking up the ball on the right. The Spaniard sent in a cross which took a deflection off Turner before bouncing towards Gerrard, who headed past Mignolet to bring the home side level against the run of play.
For the remainder of the second period Liverpool drove forward as Steve Bruce instructed his side to batten down the hatches and hold out for a point. Liverpool looked as if they were going to take the lead in the final minute but Agger failed to convert a header from six yards out, his effort instead flying frustratingly wide.
Speaking after the game, Hodgson spoke positively about the way in which his side came back from 2-1 down.
“There are no easy home wins in the Premier League, you have to fight for everything,” said Hodgson.
“The way we came back from 2-1 down was very commendable and towards the end of the game we were creating a lot of chances. We deserved our point.”