Darren Bent scores, with a little help from a red beach
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
"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
Carragher also refused to blame the absence of star duo
Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres for the insipid display
"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
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
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
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
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."
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
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