The Reds managed everything bar a goal yesterday due to the inspired form of Jurgen Macho in the Sunderland net. The mackems arrived for a point and through pure luck got one as well. Make no mistake Sunderland were poor and the shot stats speak for themselves. The Reds had nine on target, eleven off target and another nine shots blocked on the day. The visitors had one blocked shot all day that Dudek may as well have gone home. Had a goal gone in early in this game then it would probably have finished five or six nil.
The Reds won the toss and elected to defend the Kop in the first half with Sunderland kicking off. The Reds welcomed Markus Babbel back to the side and he should have scored after just six minutes play when Murphy squared a ball to him. Babbel storming in on goal connected with the ball four yards out but somehow got enough height on it that it cleared the net completely.
The midfield was largely being run by Danny Murphy who was trying to create chances and even trying his luck himself. He saw one curling shot saved whilst another flicked up off Babb and on to the bar. Emile Heskey restored back to the front line again started to show what he could really do for the side. On numerous occasions Heskey made some terrific runs off the ball and held the ball up well when needed. It shows how wasted he is when he is put on the left. Dietmar Hamann saw one of his shots fizz wide of the post after a blocked free kick whilst on the half hour a Murphy free kick was lofted into the box where Michael Owen rose really well to power a header goalwards but Macho again was equal to it low at his right hand post.
The second half started the same way as the first half did with Liverpool possession and Macho in inspired form. Whatever the Reds threw at Sunderland though they always got that bit of luck at their goal. Salif Diao went on a superb mazy run in an attempt to dribble round everyone but just as he was about to go past the last man Owen took the ball off his feet and tried a different move. Smicer had a chance but saw his shot well saved after being set up by Diao.
The Reds were so much in control that you wondered if they would ever find that break through. You hoped for a Chelsea style goal late in the game even but Sunderland were defending as if there lives depended on it. At times they looked incredibly bad and sometimes the Reds final ball wasn't quite there but on the day it simply wasn't going in the back of the net.
The Reds made two changes on sixty seven minutes play when Diouf and Riise replaced Carragher and Smicer. The move in the back line was fine but the move up front meant Heskey was switched out wide left and again he was lost in a game he was playing well in. The play continued to be virtually all in the Sunderland half and Diouf should have done better with a chance soon after coming on. Released on the right side of the box his shot was fired high over the bar when he should have at least hit the target. When Diouf came on the Reds lost a little bit if punch up front as he always drifted deep for the ball.
Even in the second half when the Reds started to improve on their corners the headers were either going wide from the likes of Diao or being well saved by Macho from Murphy.
Overall it was on of those days that had the ball gone in the net early in the first half this would have been a cruise for the Reds but on the day it just wouldn't happen. Sunderland looked a poor side and certainly didn't look interested in scoring.
Two other points worth noting for this game though. The referee, Andy D'Urso was poor and on a few occasions made very peculiar decisions. Also the Kop had an incredibly quiet day.
MotM : Danny Murphy - at the heart of all the creation in the Reds side and unlucky not to score on numerous occasions himself. Heskey also played well up front until he was moved out wide whilst Diao continues to look a superb player and was unlucky with one run forward. It was also great to see Babbel back and for a full back to give an overlapping run. No doubt now he's back the groundsman won't be happy.