Writer: Michael Briggs
Date:Monday March 21 2011
Sunderland`s first home game in over month ended in controversy and defeat as they succumbed to a 2-0 loss to a highflying Liverpool at the Stadium of Light.
Dirk Kuyt opened up the game with a first half penalty after referee initially pointed to a free kick but was overruled by his assistant, much to the frustration of the home crowd.
Luiz Suarez doubled the lead after the break when his acute shot rifled into Simon Mignolet`s goal before John Mensah was shown a red card for pulling down the Uruguayan.
t did not help the cause for Steve Bruce as he lost three players to injuries two of which in the opening 20 minutes.
With eight games left in the season the Black Cats currently lie in ninth place and will have to dramatically improve if they wish to surpass the 50 point mark Bruce has set.
In the first half thought it would be all Sunderland who experienced better possession within the first 20 minutes and looked like they could add to Liverpool`s misery, after they had been knocked out of Europe earlier in the week.
But it didn`t take long for the roles to be reversed and it would be hate figure and former Newcastle striker, Andy Carroll that would cause problems for the home side.
A Raul Meireles corner found the head of Carroll who nodded towards Kuyt whose shot was saved well by Mignolet, Kuyt then headed over from 12-yards from the results corner.
underland however began to wake up and show promise, the best of it coming from the combination of Asamoah Gyan and a returning Danny Welbeck.
Welbeck's inviting cross almost found Kieran Richardson but the former England international couldn`t quite get a toe to it.
But it would be his last contribution as it looked like a hamstring injury would rule him out for the rest of the game as was replaced by Steed Malbranque just after Sulley Muntari was also brought off with a foot injury with Lee Cattermole coming on in his place.
But after the moment of the match would arrive and just like the beach ball incident it caused massive controversy.
poor Mensah touch allowed Spearing to break away before he was brought down by the Ghanaian.
Referee Friend pointed to a free-kick before changing his mind, much to the fury of Sunderland boss Bruce on the touchline. But the decision had been made and Kuyt duly placed the ball to the left of Mignolet.
The Reds continued to press a nearly doubled their lead when Suarez hit a low half volley but Mignolet was equal to it and was palmed away.
In the second half it didn`t get any better for Sunderland and before they knew it they would be down by two goals and simply, magic from the Uruguayan.
The midfielder was picked out well by a Kuyt throw in and managed to drive down the right byline and thrashed the ball from a very tight angle into the Sunderland goal to send the travelling fans into ecstasy.
Up to that point, Sunderland had only managed a couple of curling efforts from Malbranque and Jordan Henderson that failed to trouble keeper Pepe Reina.
elbeck also hobbled off with what looked like a recurrence of a hamstring injury and was replaced by Elmohammady.
Towards the end of the game fans thought it couldn`t get any worse, but eight minutes from time it did, Mensah was shown his second yellow after pulling back Suarez outside the 18-yard box.
Manager Steve Bruce was quick to call this afternoon`s sell out a 'horror show` but was pleased with some of the returning players that have been out of action recently.
He told SAFC.com, "After a great start I thought it was going to be a decent game but then there was the turning point on the half hour mark.
'We had to make changes after losing a couple of players through injuries and overall it was a horror day."
e later added, "It was really disappointing to lose the way we did, especially as we had a full house.
'On a positive note it was good to see a few players coming back who will benefit from playing for an hour, but we made hard work of the game.
It was a hard afternoon with the injuries and we made even harder work of it.
'Not only were we down to ten men towards the end but we had Ferdinand and Bardsley also playing injured.
'Liverpool were difficult to break down and we huffed and puffed a bit but the goal was the turning point.
'You have to say that on the day we didn't deserve to get anything from the game.'
Date:Monday March 21 2011
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