Sunderland 0-1 Liverpool: Markovic’s strike enough for resurgent Reds

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Liverpool beat 10-man Sunderland 1-0 at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, as Lazar Markovic’s early goal was enough to separate the two sides.

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Markovic was a constant thorn in Sunderland’s side, as the Black Cats didn’t make their task any easier when Liam Bridcutt was sent off just four minutes into the second half. The closest the home side came to an equalizer was when Adam Johnson smashed the crossbar, as Liverpool battled to win all three points on a blustery day in the north east.

With the win Liverpool are now unbeaten in five PL matches with three wins in their last four, as the Reds are in eighth spot on 32 points. Sunderland are without a win at home since October and remain close to the bottom three.

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Early on Liverpool came flying out of the traps as Markovic was set clean through by Philippe Coutinho and looked to be bundled down in the box by Wes Brown but penalty calls were waved away by referee Craig Pawson. The Black Cats had got away with one.

However just nine minutes in, Markovic’s persistence paid off as a superb surge forward from the Serbian, Steven Gerrard and Fabio Borini saw a clear foul on Borini but Pawson played the advantage as Markovic bundled his way through Sunderland’s defense and prodded home for his first PL goal. 1-0 to Liverpool.

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Gerrard twice went close as Liverpool controlled proceedings and they almost doubled their lead after 31 minutes as Markovic’s spectacular volley cannoned off the crossbar, then hit Costel Pantilimon before going out for a corner. Borini sent an effort into the side-netting after rounding Pantilimon, as Liverpool dominated the first half and went in 1-0 up.

At half time Liverpool made a change as Gerrard was replaced by Dejan Lovren, as the skipper suffered an injury. Less than five minutes into the second half, Sunderland were down to 10-men as Bridcutt took out Emre Can on the flank and received a second yellow. Despite being down a man, Sunderland rattled the woodwork as Adam Johnson thumped a swerving effort which bamboozled Simon Mignolet but crashed against the bar and Martin Skrtel cleared the danger.

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Liverpool continued to control possession as Coutinho flashed an effort wide late on, but held on despite Sunderland being dangerous from set pieces. An ugly win, but Liverpool’s resurgence continues.

LINEUPS

Sunderland: Pantilimon, Vergini, van Aanholt, O’Shea, Brown, Bridcutt, Larsson, Gomez, Johnson (Mandron, 86′), Giaccherini (Buckley, 77′), Wickham (Graham, 77′)

Liverpool: Mignolet, Can, Skrtel, Sakho, Moreno, Henderson, Lucas, Markovic, Gerrard (Lovren, 46′), Borini (Balotelli, 67′), Coutinho

Goal: Markovic (9′)