After The Match 


Sunderland-Liverpool 1-0 (1-0)         17.10.09                      PL
Goals: Bent (5)
Team: Reina, Johnson, Aurelio, Carragher, Skrtel, Agger, Lucas, Spearing, Benayoun, Babel, Kuyt
Subs: Voronin (Skrtel 72), Mascherano (Spearing 72),
Ngog (Babel 81)
Not used: Cavalieri, Riera, Insua, Kelly
Yellow: Kuyt (20)           Cana (8), Reid (52)
Red: None
Referee: Mike Jones
Attendance: 47,237
Shots on target: 3-4
Shots off target: 7-11
Blocked shots: 5-4
Fouls conceded: 21-18
Corners: 1-7
Offsides: 4-0
Possession: 31.1-68.9
Yellow: 2-1

HEADLINES "It's a question of keeping our confidence..."
Rafael Benitez
1810: Carragher seeking Reds response
1710: Bruce: Forget about the fluke
1710: Rafa: We can't blame freak goal
1710: Life's a beach for Benitez  

Darren Bent scores, with a little help from a red beach ball.
(Photo: PA)

Carragher seeking Reds response


Jamie Carragher has vowed Liverpool will stick together as they prepare for a crucial period that could decide their season.

The Reds saw their title hopes suffer a further blow on Saturday after going down 1-0 to Sunderland, thanks to a fortuitous goal from Darren Bent.

It was Liverpool's fourth defeat in the Premier League and their third in a row in all competitions as they prepare to tackle Lyon in the Champions League before league leaders Manchester United make the trip to Anfield next weekend.

Carragher, who captained Liverpool at the Stadium of Light, is confident Rafa Benitez's men can bounce back from their latest setback against Lyon.

"It was frustrating for us but Chelsea also lost so there is still a long way to go," said Carragher.

"Now is not the time to talk about the title. We are looking to the next game.

"We now have the Champions League tie against Lyon which will be in front of our own supporters at Anfield to restore some confidence before we take on Manchester United next Sunday.

"We will stick together and work hard on the training ground to put things right. We know we've got a good team, good players and a good manager so we've got to have belief in ourselves and keep going.

"We have the quality and the belief we will get back to winning ways soon, hopefully starting on Tuesday against Lyon."

Carragher also refused to blame the absence of star duo Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres for the insipid display at Sunderland.

"It's easy to say we missed Stevie and Fernando and yes they are world-class players, but we have a big squad and we have won without them before.

"Sunderland played well. We weren't at our best but we can bounce back and restore some confidence."

Bruce: Forget about the fluke

By Graeme Bailey - Sky Sports

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce was delighted with his side's display against Liverpool and does not want the fluke nature of the winner to detract from that.

Sunderland claimed a 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light which came courtesy of Darren Bent after five minutes.

However, replays showed that Bent's shot deflected off a beach ball and it was that which sent it past Jose Reina.

Rules state that the goal should have been disallowed and a drop ball should have been given, but Bruce maintains that would have been truly harsh on his side.

"I thought it was a deflection off a player and I have just seen it, but if anyone knew the rule that it should have been a drop ball then you are a real saddo!" he quipped.

"I thought we deserved the win, I hope that [the goal] isn't the headline - in the second half we had three one-on-ones.

"I was thinking that we needed to get a second, but I thought we thoroughly deserved it and one of the reasons I came here was for days like this.

"The confidence is there and let's hope we can maintain it and carry on."

Bruce admits he was happy to face Liverpool without Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.

"It is always good to have a big team after an international break but I wouldn't take anything away from our performance, we have beaten them on the day hands down," he added.

Bruce did lose Lee Cattermole and Kenwyne Jones to injury and he is just hoping they are not sidelined for too long.

"Kenywne is in hospital with his ankle and I know when Cattermole wants to come off there is something wrong to him, but that is the real down side for me today which has been a great day for the club," he said.

"Obviously our thoughts are with these two because the equivalent of Jones and Cattermole, is like our Torres and Gerrard. Kenwyne has an ankle and Cattermole has twisted his knee and we just hope it isn't a cruciate."

Rafa: We can't blame freak goal

By Jimmy Rice at the Stadium of Light - LFC Official Website

Rafa Benitez refused to blame the manner of Darren Bent's bizarre winner for Liverpool's fourth defeat of the season - and admitted his side need to improve to keep their title dream alive.

Bent sealed a 1-0 win for Sunderland after his fifth-minute strike deflected off an inflatable ball thrown on to the pitch by a supporter.

But Benitez said: "It was a special situation but we didn't play well. The goal changed the game but we didn't play well, made some mistakes and gave the ball away. After this they played well on the counter-attack. They had some chances and when we had our chances we didn't take them.

"These things can happen in a lot of games. It's a bad situation for us that the (inflatable) ball was in the middle and was influential but again I will say we didn't play well - that's the main thing for me.

"We had some players who we knew could be a little bit tired, and then conceding after four minutes it was even more difficult. We have to do better if we want to win these kind of games."

Asked if he thought the goal should have been allowed, Benitez replied: "It's a very technical question but it could be because it could have been a goal anyway."

Despite the result, Benitez can take consolation in Chelsea's defeat at Aston Villa which means the gap to the top increased by just a single point to seven.

Manchester United rose to the summit thanks to a victory over Bolton but with Alex Ferguson's men visiting Anfield next Sunday, Benitez knows there will be plenty of opportunities to make up ground.

He said: "In a normal season teams at the top would be winning every game and it would be a long distance to the top now but Chelsea have lost two games and I think we'll see a lot of top teams lose games.

"Losing four games is bad but crucial? That depends on the next few games. If we can win two or three games in a row we can be at the top of the table. It's a question of keeping our confidence, working hard and trying to do better.

"We have an important game on Tuesday and then on Sunday. It's not important to talk about the table, we just have to think about getting three points in every game.

"You have to analyse some things. We made some mistakes and we need to find solutions.

"We won five or six games in a row, so I think we were fixing things, but in these difficult games we need to improve."

Liverpool went into the game without injured duo Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.

On whether they will be fit for Tuesday's home match with Lyon, Benitez said: "Both are improving but it's too soon to say. We'll see again with the physios on Sunday.

"We have two or three days and we'll see how they progress. They are improving but it's difficult to say if they can be available. We think they can be but it's too soon to say."

Life's a beach for Benitez

The Irish Times

Darren Bent staked a further claim for a place in Englandís World Cup squad as Sunderland heaped further misery on Liverpool. However, he did so in controversial circumstances as the visitors were left fuming over the fifth-minute strike.

Bentís eighth goal of the season came when his shot was deflected past goalkeeper Pepe Reina by a red beach ball which had been thrown onto the pitch, although referee Mike Jones had little option but to award the goal.

But if the visitors felt aggrieved at the manner in which their third successive defeat in all competitions was sealed, they could have few complaints about the result in front of a crowd of 47,327 at the Stadium of Light.

With the injured Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres missing, they were a shadow of the side which pushed Manchester United so close last season as they slipped to their fourth league defeat of the campaign despite a late, late rally.

After their sideís heroics at Old Trafford a fortnight ago, when only a late Anton Ferdinand own goal gave the reigning champions a point, the Wearside faithful arrived believing a win over one of the Premier Leagueís traditional powers was a distinct possibility.

And if they needed further confirmation that it could be their day, they had to wait only five minutes.

There was nothing fortunate about the way Lee Cattermole and Andy Reid combined to open up the Reds down the right, and when the Irishman picked out leading scorer Bent beyond the far post, fate intervened.

Reina thought he had the strikerís shot covered and could only look on in horror when it hit the beach ball and flew past him into the net.

Sunderland sensed an opportunity and could have been out of sight by half-time.

Bent might have completed a hat-trick but headed a 22nd-minute Reid cross straight at Reina and then glanced Phil Bardsleyís driven ball wide of the far post seven minutes before the break.

Bruce made a change at the break when his only specialist left-back, George McCartney, failed to re-appear, prompting a reshuffle.

Reina kept his side in it with 55 minutes gone when he blocked Bentís effort after the striker had run onto Jonesí pass and rounded him.

The goalkeeper needed the help of the woodwork six minutes later after Bent capitalised on more poor defending, but saw his shot come back off the foot of the post.

Benitez threw on strikers Andriy Voronin and David Ngog in a desperate effort to rescue a point, and deep into seven minutes of stoppage time Gordon had to make a fine double save from Dirk Kuyt and Ngog to deny Liverpool an undeserved point.

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Thor Zakariassen ©