Football: Liverpool's Luis Suarez, the object of Sunderland fans' taunts throughout the game, had the last laugh with a second-half equaliser and, while his manager felt they had done enough to grab all three points, a draw was a fair result.
It leaves Liverpool still searching for their first win under Brendan Rodgers and contemplating their worst start in a century. But their manager was not disheartened. "I've seen enough from the performance level that we're going to be competitive," said Rodgers. "We've come out here this evening and put on a real performance. The young players have grown into the team and as the season goes on we'll only get better."
It was Sunderland who opened the scoring just before the half-hour mark, with Steven Fletcher grabbing his third strike in two League games. At £12 million he is proving something of a bargain. "I'm delighted with him," said his manager Martin O'Neill, who pointed out that his charge had missed most of pre-season. "But he will get fitter."
While Fletcher's name was on the scoresheet it was a goal created by the work of Craig Gardner. The defender confidently brought the ball out of his own half before slaloming past Glen Johnson and Suarez before sliding a low pass in front of goal where Fletcher was on hand to beat Martin Skrtel and Pepe Reina. The game had been fairly even up to that point and Liverpool might have felt hard done by.
In the 37th minute Suarez went on a probing run into the Sunderland box. When the Uruguayan fell to ground under the challenge of John O'Shea, his appeal for a penalty was waved away by referee Martin Atkinson. The crowd produced the second biggest cheer of the game when the man in green and black produced a yellow card, booking Suarez for diving. The Liverpool player would have the last laugh, however.
The latest new-look Liverpool were never out of the match with Fabio Borini being supported well with the attacking trio of Suarez Raheem Sterling and Jonjo Shelvey.
Their best chance of the first half came just a minute before Fletcher's strike when Suarez headed Shelvey's cutback into the path of Borini, but Simon Mignolet was equal to the Italian's shot.
Liverpool were almost on level terms in the 50th minute when Johnson's curling shot beat Mignolet, but the Sunderland fans were able to breathe a sigh of relief when the ball rebounded off the crossbar.
Sterling produced a pinpoint cross 10 minutes later, but Mignolet beat Borini to the ball and Steven Gerrard could only place the rebound wide. Nonetheless it was clear they were far from out of the game and even O'Neill acknowledged they deserved a point. "They kept looking for an equaliser and had a number of chances in the second half but the irony is we were probably having our best spell of possession in the second half when they scored," he said.
There was a sense of inevitability that when they finally converted an opportunity it would be Suarez who would do so. It was almost a carbon copy of Fletcher's strike.
This time it was Sterling who powered down the right, getting the better of Danny Rose. His cross bounced kindly off Titus Bramble, on for the injured Carlos Cuellar, and Suarez made no mistake.
With 10 minutes left Shelvey tested Mignolet from the edge of the area but his shot was straight at the keeper.
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