The Reds finally won a league game after beating lowly Sunderland by what appears a comfortable 3-0 scoreline. The Reds deserved to win but the 3-0 margin was flattering to say the least. A poor first half saw the sides go in all square at half time before three second half goals gave the Reds the win. Once Peter Crouch scored the result was pretty much nailed in even if the Reds did survive a couple of scares along the way.
Sunderland got the game underway attacking the Kop end in the first half. The first noticeable part of the side was Lucas down the left and Carragher at right back. No offence to Lucas who will develop in to a great player over time I'm sure but he's not a left sided player.
Sunderland were forced in to an early switch as Richardson limped off. He'd only passed a fitness test late on for the game and only lasted five minutes of this one. Prica came on to replace him.
As many lower sides do Sunderland played compact and wasted whatever time they could during the game. Goal kicks were ambled for but then this is nothing new. Perhaps we should start using ball boys for these types of games.
With Sunderland being so compact it highlighted more the fact that width was needed quite quickly. Pennant drifted around the pitch which narrowed the right down and Carra was never the best attacking full back but it's not his style. On the left Aurelio was trying to get down the wing because Lucas wasn't playing his style either.
It met for a frustrating afternoon in the first half as a result. The closest effort the Reds had was when Mascherano sent a dipping shot just over the bar although Gordon probably had it covered anyway.
As the half ticked on toward the interval you were just left looking at the bench. Benayoun and Babel both sat there itching to get on and seeing a team struggle for creativity and width on the pitch.
The surprise at half time was that Steve Finnan was stripped and ready for the off straight away. Fabio Aurelio didn't come back out so I presumed he was injured. Finnan slotted in at left back.
The crowd began getting frustrated as the clock ticked and we just never looked like breaking Sunderland down. The main problem was that they weren't really defending for their lives but just basic stuff. That was the worry though and a goal was desperately needed.
Prica went off having come on early in the game to be replaced by O'Donovan on fifty six minutes and just a minute later the Reds were ahead.
At last the goal came. Gerrard had a shot blocked by Crouch before it was sent right side for Carragher. At last the width was used and Carragher went past his man before standing the ball up to the far post. Crouch jumped and headed home. I have to say I was shocked at Crouch scoring with his head. So frustrating that he can be in the air I didn't believe that he had put it in for a second.
Torres went close just after before Benayoun came on for Lucas. The move helped give us a bit more invention. Two minutes later and Crouch so nearly had a second with his trademark scissor kick volley which Gordon just managed to save on his line.
The Reds put the game beyond doubt on sixty nine minutes when Torres latched on to a Crouch through header. He outpaced his man before slamming the ball home from fourteen yards.
With a two goal cushion the Reds clearly looked more relaxed and ready to get more if the chances came along.
The Reds had a lucky escape on seventy four minutes when Carragher flew in to block a sot which clearly hit Carragher's arm but the ref adjudged it to be accidental contact I assume and play went on. It was certainly a let off for the Reds.
Sunderland did go close on eighty three minutes as Reina half saved one shot and then somehow they shot over from six yards under pressure from Crouch.
Dirk Kuyt came on to replace Crouch for the final seven minutes and he did have a half chance to score but after leaving his man his cut back was blocked.
The final goal came two minutes from time when Pennant was felled in the box. The ref clearly wasn't going to give it until the linesman placed the flag across his chest. Craig Gordon was booked afterwards for disputing the call.
Steven Gerrard took the ball and just about scored despite Gordon getting a hand to the ball on its way in.
MotM : Martin Skrtel - after his iffy start last week he has settled down and this performance showed why we paid good money for him. He looks confident in the air and certainly takes no prisoners.