Liverpool edge nervy encounter over Sunderland
Matt Haynes | December 30, 2015
Sunderland 1-0 Liverpool
- Reds make it two consecutive 1-0 wins
- Christian Benteke scores quickest second-half goal of the season
- Liverpool miss numerous chances in front of goal
Reds pile on early pressure
Liverpool, 6/4 with Coral to win the Capital One Cup, emerged from the Stadium Light as 1-0 winners over Sunderland.
Unlike a calendar year, this game didn’t quite have a feeling of “blink and you’ll miss it” about it, though similarly to New Year’s Eve, there was the odd firework.
Having beaten Leicester 1-0 last time out, Liverpool seemed keen to make a point and attempted to press it home at the earliest opportunity, with a tough schedule over the next month in the Premier League to come.
Brazilian duo Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino were looking dangerous and combining well and the latter had a great opportunity after just eight minutes before taking a bad touch, much to Jurgen Klopp’s frustration.
While Sunderland attempted to counter, time and again, Liverpool drove them back. It wasn’t long before Vito Mannone was genuinely alerted when Nathaniel Clyne unleashed a pile-driver from midway into his opponent’s half.
Minutes later, meanwhile, after Jermain Defoe had tested Simon Mignolet at the other end to cap a fine move, Coutinho kept Mannone on his toes with a close free-kick.
Firmino was one Red that grew into the game the longer it went on and arguably had the best chance of the half. While his constant interchanging with Coutinho and Lallana was pulling the Black Cats all over the place, he created enough space to terrifically test Mannone.
Taking a touch to set himself, his shot was almost Zinedine Zidane-esque as he dinked the ball to the far post across goal, for Mannone to tip onto the post, as it trickled agonisingly wide.
Whatever Klopp said at half time worked wonders. Christian Benteke scored the fastest second half goal of the season after 22 seconds, with Coutinho finding Lallana, whose one-touch pinball pass found the striker who slid past the goalkeeper into the net.
From then on, it was a passable effort at end-to-end football as the Black Cats pressed for an equaliser, those both team’s finishing was far from spectacular.
Former Red Fabio Borini carved perhaps the best opening for the hosts, creating space in the area, before jinking, though could only fire straight at Mignolet.
In what was almost the last act of the match, Benteke went clear, one-on-one with the goalkeeper, though his finish was poor. Six points from the Reds’ last two matches and it may just set them up for a happy new year.
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