Sunderland's Larsson challenges Liverpool's Suarez during their English Premier League soccer match in Sunderland

Sunderland 1-3 Liverpool: Suarez and Sturridge down Black Cats in open match (Video)

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A wonderfully bright display of attacking prowess by both sides put on a show at the Stadium of Light, but Liverpool pulled out the expected result as they move to second place with a 3-1 win, their 400th Premier League victory.

The Reds welcomed back Luis Suarez, and he rewarded the loyalty of Brendan Rogers with a brace, and Daniel Sturridge added a goal of his own plus he assisted both of Suarez’s strikes.

It was Liverpool who looked the most dangerous in the opening few minutes, but Sunderland had their moments of creativity. Suarez and Sturridge paired together looked a great decision by Rogers, as the two both tested the fluidity of the Sunderland defense early.

The Reds thought they had the opener inside 10 minutes when a Suarez free kick found Martin Skrtel’s head but the offsides flag had gone up.

Sunderland then began to threaten even more, much to the surprise and delight of the home fans.  They looked inspired under interm manager Kevin Ball, taking over for the fired Paolo Di Canio.

Sebastian Larsson was the first Black Cat to go ever so close, as a biting free-kick in the 23rd minute clashed the crossbar, out of the reach of Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

Liverpool responded in the 28th minute when the Reds earned a corner, and Gerrard’s kick met Daniel Sturridge’s head…actually his shoulder…and into the back of the net.  No one on the pitch claimed handball, but replays showed Sturridge directed the ball goalwards with his shoulder. Nonetheless Liverpool took a 1-0 lead.

More controversy just after as Sunderland searched to level the score. Mignolet collected a corner but spilled it, and Kolo Toure appeared to pass it back to his goalkeeper.  Referee Howard Webb instead said the pass was legal, and replays suggested Toure may have intended to clear but Mignolet got in the way.

source: ReutersSuarez matched Sturridge’s tally and doubled Liverpool’s led in the 36th minute.  Steven Gerrard’s pass threaded through Sturridge, and he low crossed to his strike partner lurking at the far post for an easy finish and a 2-0 lead.

In the second half again both sides threatened on goal, but it was Sunderland who pulled one back in the 52nd minute. Emmanuel Giaccherini pounced on a rebound from Ki Seung-Young’s shot and Mignolet, once he spilled it, had no chance at stopping the putback.

The goal lit up the Sunderland squad, and they began to pepper the Liverpool goal. Giaccherini, Altidore, and Larsson all came close to equalizing the score.  With both teams pressing for the next goal, the goalkeepers began to step up.

With the game flying open and both sides looking at chance after chance, Liverpool finally killed off any chance for Sunderland at the death.   The Uruguayan put up a perfect long ball for Sturridge who put a wonderful move down the left, and again cut it back for his strike partner Suarez to crash home on the empty net to seal the scoreline.

It was a great shift by the Sunderland players under Ball, especially from Giaccherini, but the loss means the Black Cats remain bottom of the table.  It was a tall task for the interm manager, but things at least look quite positive against a much better and sharper opponent.

Goals:

Sunderland – Giaccherini 52′
Liverpool – Sturridge 28′, Suarez 36′, 89′

Lineups:

Sunderland – Westwood; Gardner, Colback, O’Shea, Cuellar; Larsson (Mavrias, 85′), Cattermole (Celustka, 74′), Ki, Johnson, Giaccherini; Altidore.

Liverpool – Mignolet; Toure, Sakho, Skrtel, Enrique; Henderson, Gerrard; Lucas, Moses (Sterling, 75′); Suarez, Sturridge

PL Sunday: Spurs look to regain second against Stoke

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates scoring his sides first goal with Erik Lamela of Tottenham Hotspur  during the Premier League match between Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur at Britannia Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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Although there’s only one match on Sunday’s Premier League docket, the fixture bears great weight for both clubs.

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Tottenham vs. Stoke City — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Spurs have the chance to move back into second place at White Hart Lane as Mauricio Pochettino‘s side are firmly in a battle to finish runners’ up to Chelsea this season. Tottenham currently sit 13 points out of the top spot, however, five clubs are within four points of another in the battle for second. Danny Rose and Erik Lamela remain sidelined due to injuries but Spurs will remain the favorites in the fixture after having won their previous two league meetings.

Stoke enters Sunday having gone unbeaten in five of its last six PL matches and the Potters can enter the top 10 with a victory. Mark Hughes‘ side could be given a big lift with the potential return of Xherdan Shaqiri while Saido Berahino could be in line to earn his first start since joining Stoke. Both players could present massive upside for the Potters, who have struggled to find goals as of late. In their last four matches, Stoke have managed just three finishes, one of which came from an own goal.

 

Sutton forced to use outfield player after goalkeeper left match injured

SUTTON, GREATER LONDON - FEBRUARY 20:  Reserve goalkeeper Wayne Shaw of Sutton acknowledges the crowd after The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round match between Sutton United and Arsenal at Gander Green Lane on February 20, 2017 in Sutton, Greater London.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
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Sutton United was put in a bit of a predicament on Saturday when the club lost its starting goalkeeper due to injury.

[ MORE: Chelsea, Everton extend unbeaten runs in Saturday’s PL action ]

If only Wayne Shaw were available…

The 45-year-old resigned from his backup keeper position with the team earlier in the week after an investigation over broken betting rules came into question when Shaw ate a pie on the bench during Sutton’s FA Cup defeat against Arsenal.

Ross Worner left the pitch during the team’s 3-2 National League victory over Torquay United in the opening quarter hour.

Despite being down a goal and a man, central defender Simon Downer filled in for the injured Worner and only conceded once in the Sutton win.

Video: Schmeichel opens up about Ranieri sacking, state of Leicester

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Leicester’s downward spiral this season has certainly been one of the most intriguing storylines in the Premier League, and that story came to a head when manager Claudio Ranieri was sacked by the club.

[ MORE: Chelsea, Everton extend unbeaten runs in Saturday’s PL action ]

After leading his side to an improbable PL title during the 2015/16 season, the Foxes are now in the midst of a difficult relegation battle as the season hits its most crucial juncture.

[ MORE: Brighton extends lead in Championship, Newcastle held by Bristol ]

Still, the Foxes must turn their attention towards survival despite losing a manager that was amongst the most well liked in England and really all throughout European football.

“Claudio [Ranieri] leaving is obviously very, very sad. We achieved the impossible together and I have nothing but the upmost respect for him for everything that he achieved at this club,” said Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

“Everybody knows he’s a classy guy. He came in and said his piece to the players, thanked us for our efforts and for last season and said goodbye. It’s a shame it has come to this.”

Schmeichel reiterated that he didn’t believe Ranieri was the issue and that the players are at fault for not taking care of the results on the pitch.

“You can look at our performances on the pitch,” Schmeichel said. “We haven’t been quite good enough this season. It’s quite clear. The league doesn’t lie. We’re in the position we are in because we haven’t been good enough.”

The keeper stated that he especially is taking Ranieri’s sacking to heart and that he wishes the club could have strung together some better performances in order to save his former manager’s job.

“I don’t think anyone has had more sleepless nights over our form than I have,” Schmeichel said. “Our form affects me deeply. Every person can clearly see that we haven’t performed on the pitch and we deserve the criticism that we get and that we are getting because of our performances. But anything above that is out of our hands. On the pitch, we definitely deserve the criticism that we are getting.”

In the interim, Craig Shakespeare will be tasked with replacing Ranieri and hoping to keep his club afloat next season in the PL.

While Shakespeare does have caretaker experience back in 2006 with West Bromwich Albion, the 53-year-old is in a much more difficult position this time around given the magnitude of Leicester’s fall from grace.

“Craig is someone I’ve known for a very long time,” Schmeichel said. “He’s a very bright character. he’s a very serious football man, what you’d call a real football man. he’s very enthusiastic about training. I have absolutely no doubt that he’s capable of becoming a manager whether it’s now or at some point. I think that he does have ambitions of that but he’s been a magnificent manager in his time here.”

La Liga & Serie A: Sevilla moves second, Caldara guides Atalanta

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 29:  Stevan Jovetic (L) of Sevilla FC celebrates with his team mates after scoring his team's first goal during the La Liga match between RCD Espanyol and Sevilla FC at Cornella-El Prat stadium on January 29, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…

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Real Betis 1-2 Sevilla

Sevilla has moved into second in La Liga thanks to a pair of second half goals on Saturday. Riza Durmisi gave the hosts the advantage heading into the halftime break but Sevilla fought back in the second stanza with finishes from Gabriel Mercado and Vicente Iborra to pull into a tie on points with league leaders Real Madrid.

Leganes 4-0 Deportivo La Coruna

Raúl Albentosa’s red card was the least of Deportivo’s worries on the day as the 17th place side took a hammering from Leganes. The victory for the hosts moves Leganes two points clear of Deportivo in the table and five points above the drop zone. Alexander Szymanowski and Martín Mantovani helped Leganes jump out to a 2-0 lead inside of the opening half hour before late finishes from Unai Lopez and Alberto Bueno put the finishing touches on the encounter.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Alaves 2-1 Valencia
Eibar 3-0 Malaga

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Espanyol vs. Osasuna (6 a.m. ET)
Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona (10:15 a.m. ET)
Athletic Bilbao vs. Granada (12:30 p.m. ET)
Sporting Gijon vs. Celta Vigo (12:30 p.m. ET)
Villareal vs. Real Madrid (2:45 p.m. ET)


Napoli 0-2 Atalanta

Mattia Caldara netted a brace on Saturday and helped guide his Atalanta side to within three points of Napoli in the Serie A table. Atalanta currently sits fourth in Italy’s top flight, but the race for the second place is heating up as Roma, Napoli and Atalanta all sit within five points of one another. Meanwhile, Inter Milan will have a chance to draw level on points with Atalanta on Sunday when they take on Roma.

Juventus 2-0 Empoli

It took a bit for the league leaders to get going but Juventus remains in firm control of Serie A after another victory. An own goal from Lukasz Skorupski gave the hosts the lead after the halftime break before Alex Sandro doubled the advantage 12 minutes later after finishing off a Dani Alves cross. The Bianconeri now hold a 10-point advantage over second place Roma.

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Palermo vs. Sampdoria (6:30 a.m. ET)
Chievo vs. Pescara (9 a.m. ET)
Crotone vs. Cagliari (9 a.m. ET)
Genoa vs. Bologna (9 a.m. ET)
Lazio vs. Udinese (9 a.m. ET)
Sassuolo vs. AC Milan (9 a.m. ET)
Inter Milan vs. Roma (2:45 p.m. ET)