FT: Sunderland 1-3 Liverpool

Liverpool hero Luis Suarez bagged a brace on his league return against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Sunday

Liverpool hero Luis Suarez bagged a brace on his league return against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Sunday.

Following Daniel Sturridge’s opener, the fiery Uruguayan twice tapped home from close-range as the Reds ran out deserved winners over a spirited Black Cats side.

Suarez, back after serving a 10-match ban, looked lively in the opening stages and went close after just four minutes. A corner found Kolo Toure on the edge of the box and the defender found the Uruguayan, who hit a rasping effort just wide of Keiren Westwood’s post.

The Reds then thought they had opened the scoring five minutes later. Steven Gerrard drilled a low free-kick at goal, which Westwood saved well, and Martin Skrtel lashed home the rebound – though the effort was ruled out for offside.

Sunderland looked to press high up the pitch and won a free-kick 25 yards from goal in the 22nd minute. Sebastian Larsson stepped up and curled a powerful effort at goal, though the ball rattled the crossbar and stayed out.
Brendan Rodgers’ men soon took advantage of Larsson’s narrow miss and took the lead on 27 minutes. A corner found Sturridge eight yards from goal, and the England striker diverted the ball over the line with his upper arm – though the referee allowed the goal.

Sunderland then pressed forward in an effort to find an equaliser but fell further behind just 10 minutes later. Sturridge surged down the right flank and squared for Suarez – who gleefully tapped home to mark his return with a goal.

The Black Cats were undeterred however and had two chances to equalise before half-time. First, ex-Sunderland stopper Simon Mignolet saved from Craig Gardner at point-blank range, before Adam Johnson lashed an effort over the crossbar from just inside the box.

The two efforts sparked Kevin Ball’s men into life and they pulled a goal back in the 51st minute. Mignolet could only parry Ki Sung-Yeung’s initial 20-yard drive and Emanuele Giaccherini promptly smashed the rebound into the bottom corner.

The home side then poured forward in search of an equaliser, and went close just two minutes later. Craig Gardner collected the ball on the right flank and fired a fizzing effort at goal, though Mignolet was on hand to tip the ball behind.

There was no let-up for the Liverpool defence, as Jozy Altidore was the next to go close. Larsson won the ball high up the pitch and found the big American, who stung the palms of Mignolet with a long-range pile-driver.
The Reds looked to reassert their authority by keeping possession and almost put the game to bed in the 66th minute. A low cross-field pass from Suarez found Victor Moses, and the winger forced a stunning stop from Westwood with a dipping 20-yard drive.

Suarez then went close to grabbing his second in the 73rd minute. He collected the ball 20 yards from goal and saw one shot blocked before he drilled the rebound wide of the post.

The Reds pressure continued, and Kolo Toure almost made it 3-1 just minutes later. The centre-back surged forward from defence and fired at goal from 30 yards, though Westwood again made a fine save.

Sunderland eventually managed to break out, but were caught napping just before full-time. Sturridge picked up a superb Suarez through ball and raced down the right flank, before cutting back for the Uruguayan and he gratefully fired home to wrap up a fine win, and guide Liverpool into second place in the league.