After The Match 


Liverpool-Sunderland 2-2 (1-1)           25.9.10                      PL
Goals: Kuyt (5), Gerrard (64)         Bent (45 pen, 48)
Team: Reina, Johnson, Konchesky, Carragher, Skrtel, Gerrard, Poulsen, Meireles, Cole, Kuyt, Torres
Subs: Agger (Konchesky 28), Ngog (Poulsen 61)
Not used: Jones, Kyrgiakos, Lucas, Jovanovic, Maxi
Yellow: Torres (59), Kuyt (60), Gerrard (75)      Mignolet (90)
Red: None
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Attendance: 43,626
Shots on target: 5-3
Shots off target: 8-7
Blocked shots: 1-0
Fouls conceded: 19-8
Corners: 3-3
Offsides: 1-1
Possession: 54.5-45.5
Yellow: 3-1
in a day..."

Roy Hodgson
2709: Dominic King sees LFC's poor start
          continue with a draw against Sunderland

2609: Turner lost for words
2609: Referees' body backs Attwell after Liverpool goal
2609: Kuyt dismisses talk of Torres exit
2509: Video: Sit in protest after the Sunderland game
2509: Revolt in the air as reality hurts Liverpool
2509: Hodgson: Reds must improve
2509: Bruce unhappy with referee display
2509: Gerrard rescues point for sorry Reds

Video: Sit in protest after the Sunderland game


Dominic King sees LFC's poor start
continue with a draw against Sunderland

Comment by Dominic King - Liverpool Echo

If Roy Hodgson entered Anfield’s Press room on Wednesday night sodden and angry, he left it on Saturday calm and cautiously optimistic.

While a 2-2 draw with Northampton Town was a precursor to one of the most wretched moments in Liverpool’s modern history, another 2-2 – this time with Sunderland – has given Hodgson hope that all might not be lost.

Some supporters will be puzzled by Hodgson’s optimism. Having had chance to reflect on what can only be described as a lively 90 minutes, they will be concerned about a number of issues surrounding their team and what this performance means for the future.

For starters: how could a side that burst out of the blocks with the impetus of a 100 metre sprinter lose its way so badly?

Why have all Liverpool’s first half displays this season been so laboured?

Is this a signal of the level that Hodgson’s men are really at?

It is hard to analyse Liverpool without worrying, particularly when you cast a glance at the Premier League table and see them stuck in the lower reaches with fewer points than all the promoted teams and just one win to their credit from their opening six matches.

When you consider on Saturday that Fernando Torres led the attack, Steven Gerrard, Raul Meireles, Joe Cole and Dirk Kuyt offered attacking options and the back four was perhaps as strong as it can be, it was alarming to see them so totally dominated by Sunderland at times.

Here’s where it gets worrying; if talent of that level cannot brush aside a team that, in truth, can be expected to finisher no higher than between eighth and tenth, what does that signify for Liverpool’s prospects?

Bleak, would be the obvious answer and listening to Steve Bruce talk afterwards, you were able to draw a clear impression of what the rest of the Premier League make of events going on inside Anfield’s corridors of power right now.

“It’s very difficult to judge anyone after six games – even 15 months,” said Bruce. “I think Liverpool have the right man in charge – he’s got vast experience in a difficult time. Always in my experience if it’s unstable above you, with those who employ you, then it filters down.

“It’s unbelievable about this club because it’s never had that. It’s always been stable at the top and run properly. It’s always been an institution. At the moment it’s not got that and it filters down. So for Roy – and everyone concerned – it’s going to be a difficult time ahead until it gets resolved.”

You could easily dismiss those words as the mischievous offering of a former Manchester United player, eager to highlight the misery of one of his greatest rivals but it would be wrong to do so; Bruce is not someone who indulges in malevolence and his appraisal was offered with genuine sincerity.

Everyone knows Liverpool will be in dire straits until, at the very least, Tom Hicks and George Gillett disappear and, amid the vitriol, there was an element of poignancy to the sit-in demonstration which followed the game.

Just before the near 3,000-strong throng headed home, a sombre rendition of “All we are saying, is sell up and go” was sung, the weary tone making it clear that the torment and suffering has gone on far too long.

Enough is enough.

So when you throw into the equation a struggling team to go along with absent owners, you have the recipe for a calamity – which is why Hodgson’s post-match comments were all the more out of keeping with the scene.

“Some of the players we believe can lift the team are beginning to find their legs – like Torres and Gerrard as prime examples,” Hodgson offered. “It was only (Raul) Meireles’ second start, another start for Joe Cole. There are moments giving me satisfaction.”

For those moments to become much more consistent, then, surely it is time for Hodgson to play this line-up regularly and allow them to build up a rapport. Chopping and changing does no good and, if anything, only makes things more difficult.

Take Torres. His every move is being scrutinised at the moment; every time he fails to smile it is seen as a signal that he is ready to hand in a transfer request, every time he misses a chance it is said that he is out of form and not the force of old.

Absolute nonsense. Two assists here – one for Dirk Kuyt, the other for Steven Gerrard – mean Torres is now responsible for five of the six goals Liverpool have scored this season and his work rate was impeccable; another 90 minutes in Utrecht on Thursday would do him no harm at all.

Bruce might have grumbled that Torres was “unsporting” in the build up to Liverpool’s bizarre opening goal but he would do well to turn his ire on Sunderland defender Michael Turner, who was far too lackadaisical when taking a fifth minute free kick.

That should have been the springboard for Liverpool to push for a morale boosting win but, worryingly, Sunderland took a grip of the game and fully deserved the lead that Darren Bent’s double either side of half-time gave them.

Only a late rally, which resulted in Gerrard’s bullet header, enabled Liverpool to avoid the “black” day Hodgson had feared was about to unfold but that rally – which should, in all honesty, have achieved a win but for Daniel Agger’s dreadful last minute miss – lifted the manager’s spirits.

This might be Liverpool’s worst start to a Premier League campaign since 1992 and Hodgson has collected fewer points from his first six games than Rafa Benitez, Gerard Houllier, Roy Evans, Graeme Souness and Kenny Dalglish, but none of that matters.

What is important is for Liverpool to find the form that will carry them into a position with which they are more accustomed – and the only way that will happen is if the ‘A’ team gets on the same wavelength.

Play them every week? Play them every four days more like.

Turner lost for words

Sky Sports

Sunderland's Michael Turner admits he is lost for words after Liverpool's controversial opener on Saturday.

The defender rolled a free-kick back towards keeper Simon Mignolet, only for Fernando Torres to seize possession before playing in Dirk Kuyt to slot home.

Turner insists he was just touching the ball back for Mignolet to take the set-piece, but referee Stuart Attwell allowed the goal to stand after consulting with his assistant.

The Black Cats defender told the club's official website: "I just rolled it back to Simon to come and take it.

"The referee thought I had taken it - I don't know what to say really.

"I'm sure everyone will watch it back on the TV and they can make their own minds up."

Sunderland bounced back from the early setback with two Darren Bent goals before Steven Gerrard scored an equaliser to earn the Reds a share of the spoils.

Turner added: "The response to the early goal was excellent. We got ourselves on top and did well the whole game to be fair.

"We pressured them into making mistakes. The midfield boys did really well, they knocked it around and we created chances.

"Overall it was a very pleasing team performance.

"We knew we would be hanging on at the end because Liverpool were desperate to win. We had to dig in and hold on but we did that well."

Referees' body backs Attwell
after Liverpool goal

ESPN Soccernet

Stuart Attwell has won the support of the body that governs referees following the awarding of a controversial goal in Liverpool's 2-2 draw with Sunderland on Saturday.

Attwell allowed a goal from Dirk Kuyt to stand after five minutes after deciding that Michael Turner had taken a free kick when the defender appeared to merely knock the ball in the direction of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, in order that he would take the set piece.

With the Sunderland team standing unawares, Fernando Torres snuck in to collect the ball and square for Kuyt, who tapped home to provoke impassioned protests from the Black Cats.

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce said Attwell "got it wrong" and that the goal was "unsportsmanlike." However, Attwell has won the support of the Professional Game Match Officials organisation.

The statement read: "PGMO has reviewed the first goal scored between Liverpool and Sunderland and believe that the correct decisions were made. According to the Laws of the Game, having stopped the game for any infringement the referee is required to 'indicate the restart of the match'.

"In practice, in the majority of cases, referees indicate for the re-start by gesturing to players to take the kick. These gestures can be minimal. For the more important 'ceremonial' free kicks, which also involve control of the defensive wall, referees can indicate by using the whistle. However, there is no requirement by Law to use the whistle to make the indication.

"The ball is then in play when it is kicked and moves. So, in this case, the ball was in play as soon as it is kicked by a Sunderland player. Also, the Laws state that the free kick must be taken from the place where the infringement occurred. Again, in this case, the referee correctly determined that the free kick was played from the right place."

Kuyt dismisses
talk of Torres exit

Football 365

Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt has dismissed speculation about Fernando Torres' state of mind and insisted the striker has an important role to play even if he is not scoring.

The Spain international has provided the assists for the Reds' last four goals; winning the penalty and free-kick against Manchester United which allowed Steven Gerrard to hit a double and then setting up Kuyt and the captain again in yesterday's 2-2 draw with Sunderland.

However, he has scored only once for Liverpool so far this season - the winner against West Brom - and has started to show signs of frustration on the pitch.

Reports regularly claim the 26-year-old is unhappy and is considering leaving Anfield, as happened in the summer, but Kuyt said Torres' quality would see him through.

"Everyone is expecting goals from Fernando but he offers a lot more. Against Sunderland he was responsible for setting up the two goals," said the Holland international, who returned to action against the Black Cats earlier than expected after a shoulder injury earlier this month.

"He is very important for the team even if he is not scoring goals. I'm sure his goals will come.

"His mood has never changed. If you are a striker, and the type of striker Fernando is, you want to be involved in goals.

"But everyone could see how happy he was to have set up two goals.

"When you are one of the world's best strikers everyone is watching you so if they get a moment to blame him they will.

"And if you are not winning games he is not happy, I am not happy and the team is not happy.

"But we all know next week he could score a hat-trick and then everything changes."

Kuyt, who is hoping to be picked to face his former club in Europe on Thursday, admits Liverpool have yet to get into gear after their worst start to a top-flight season for 18 years, with just six points from as many games.

"We are not at our level yet because if we were in our best shape we would win these games," he said.

"Every day everyone is working very hard to get there, unfortunately against Sunderland it didn't happen but we can't wait for the next opportunity to change it.

"We as players want to win every game and challenge for trophies but the situation at the club we have to be patient.

"If you are at Liverpool expectations are always high and you are expected to win every game.

"If you lose or draw people are not happy and we are not happy and that is what we are at the moment.

"Things will come because we know we have quality and it just takes time.

"We all want to win and challenge for things and I am sure it will happen if we keep working.

"But we have to make sure we get some points in (against Blackpool) before we go away for the international break."

Hodgson: Reds must improve

Sky Sports

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has admitted his misfiring side are not playing like UEFA Champions League contenders.

The Reds dropped two more Premier League points on Saturday as they were forced to come from behind to salvage a 2-2 draw against a determined Sunderland side at Anfield.

It has been a season of struggle so far for Liverpool, with just one win to show from their opening six fixtures, and they remain in the lower reaches of the tightly-packed table.

The clash with the Wearsiders was billed as an opportunity for redemption following Wednesday's shock Carling Cup exit at the hands of Northampton - albeit with 11 different players - but Hodgson's replacements fared little better.

The Anfield boss was keen to take the positives as his side hit back from 2-1 down and dominated the closing stages without forcing a winner, but accepted Liverpool have work to do to claim a place back in the top four.

"It wasn't the result we wanted - we wanted a victory - but in many ways it was the performance we wanted," he said.

"I think that the penalty they got was fairly compensatory. I don't subscribe to accidental handball. Handball should be intentional, and there is no way anyone is going to persuade me that was an intentional handball.

"I'm always a little bit surprised by how dismissive you can be - as journalists - of opponents. Sunderland are a good team, they have got good players. If we don't defend as well as we should do they are going to cause problems.

"But over the 90 minutes I thought we were certainly worth more than the point we got. I'm sure the fans will appreciate the effort, the spirit and the determination of the players and that is another little step forward.

"The league is very, very tight. Had we won today we probably would have found ourselves in fourth or fifth place.

"I don't think we're playing like a team from fourth or fifth place at the moment, but that is how close the league is. There is not an awful lot to put between players.

"One of the things that is lacking is we need to play and work much more together. We've got a lot of new players coming into the team and we haven't had that much time.

"The more we work and the more the team plays together the better you will see them become. Rome wasn't built in a day and we've got to keep working at it.

"Certainly I've got a group of players here who will work and try to get better and give their all."

Bruce unhappy
with referee display

Irish Examiner

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce tempered his criticism of referee Stuart Attwell after he awarded a “crazy” goal to Liverpool in the 2-2 draw at Anfield.

The Black Cats boss said he did not want to incur the wrath of the Football Association by giving his true thoughts but was deeply unhappy with the performance of the 27-year-old official.

Attwell, who awarded the infamous “ghost goal” in the Watford v Reading Championship match two years ago, allowed Dirk Kuyt’s opening strike to count after ruling Michael Turner had taken a free-kick when he appeared to roll it back to goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and Fernando Torres nipped in.

Darren Bent hit back with a penalty and a header either side of half-time before Gerrard nodded in Torres’ near-post cross to salvage a point but the official’s performance was a major talking point.

“I’ve been in enough trouble so I don’t want to talk about it but you all witnessed it and he got it wrong,” said Bruce.

“The free-kick was 25 yards from where the incident was and I think everyone in the ground realised that too.

“He has put his whistle to his mouth three times and if he is in doubt he should have given the free-kick to be taken in the right position.

“This is the second time it has happened to me, the first time was at Arsenal in the FA Cup [as Sheffield United manager in 1999] when they were going to throw it back to our goalkeeper and they threw it to Kanu who ran down the wing and crossed for Marc Overmars to score.

“Maybe in the past a Liverpool team would have come back and said it was unfair and unsportsmanlike – I doubt it though.

“We are going to talk about this crazy goal and not the performance of the team, which was terrific.”

Bruce, referring to Bent’s freak strike which defeated Liverpool at the Stadium of Light last season, added: “It is a shame because we should be talking about a Sunderland win but it is going to be like it was with the beachball 12 months ago.”

The Sunderland manager also accused Attwell of showing favouritism to Gerrard, who caught Danny Welbeck in the face with an arm and was booked.

“I know if it had been Lee Cattermole he would have been sent off,” he said.

“He gives a yellow card – it is a strange one.”

Gerrard rescues
point for sorry Reds


Steven Gerrard rescued a point for Liverpool in a 2-2 draw with Sunderland at Anfield but referee Stuart Attwell was the centre of attention.

The official, who awarded the infamous "ghost goal" in the Championship two years ago, allowed Dirk Kuyt's opening strike to count after ruling Michael Turner had taken a free-kick when he appeared to roll it back to goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

Darren Bent hit back with a penalty and a header either side of half-time before Gerrard nodded in Fernando Torres' near-post cross to salvage a point.

Reds manager Roy Hodgson had stressed his side should not be judged by the second-string's Carling Cup defeat to League Two side Northampton in midweek but his first XI were almost as bad.

They were gifted one goal but managed to create little themselves and were again indebted to their inspirational captain for only briefly dragging them out of mediocrity.

Torres also played his part early on but cut an increasingly frustrated figure as Liverpool seemed to go backwards.

Only two minutes in he had the ball in the net after controlling Gerrard's free-kick on his chest and volleying in only to be denied by a very marginal offside decision.

His next intervention three minutes later had far more impact, although he was given a huge helping hand by Attwell.

When Sunderland were awarded a free-kick 10 yards inside their half Turner tapped the ball back towards Simon Mignolet, presumably intending for the goalkeeper to take it.

Torres turned to look at Attwell, who was in charge when Reading 'scored' at Watford on September 20 2008 despite the ball going yards wide of the post, who immediately waved play on.

Mignolet stood on the edge of his penalty area raising one arm aloft in the vain hope Torres would take pity but the 26-year-old was not in a sympathetic mood and rolled a pass for Kuyt, back in the side after a quicker-than-expected recovery from a shoulder injury, to slide a shot into the net.

Turner's challenge on the Spaniard in the 17th minute could have resulted in a penalty but, considering his earlier decision, the 27-year-old Attwell ignored appeals.

Everything seemed to be going in Liverpool's favour but, as been the case on several occasions already this season, they conspired to shoot themselves in the foot.

Gerrard's weak header back towards his own goal would have put Bent in had Jose Reina not dived feet-first to clear the danger.

If it was a warning to tighten up the Reds did not heed it as Attwell was called into action again in the 25th minute, although this time his decision was a little more straightforward as Ahmed Elmohamady's cross hit Christian Poulsen's arm.

Bent's penalty went under the Reina's body.

Things went from bad to worse as Paul Konchesky had to be replaced by makeshift left-back Daniel Agger before half-time and then Sunderland went ahead just after the interval.

Nedum Onuoha's right-wing cross was a good one but Glen Johnson was caught ball-watching the wrong side of Bent as the striker nipped in at the far post to head his side in front.

Even the usually reliable Reina was rattled, scuffing one clearance straight at Jordan Henderson who almost punished the error with a long-range shot.

Torres' temper was bubbling over and after diving in at Onuoha he was fortunate to escape with only a yellow card after visibly showing dissent to Attwell.

Hodgson made a positive substitution by replacing defensive midfielder Poulsen with striker David Ngog, bringing Meireles inside and moving Kuyt out to the right.

But with the game seemingly drifting away from them, Liverpool's two star players dragged them back into the contest midway through the half.

Torres beat Bardsley close to the right touchline and swung over an inviting cross which Gerrard headed in at the near post.

The England midfielder was booked for catching Danny Welbeck in the face with his arm as they challenged for the ball as the atmosphere began to heat up.

Liverpool, at least, were now showing some desire and Ngog forced a low save out of Mignolet, Kuyt fired just wide, Turner cleared off the line from Ngog and Agger headed wide.

But the result did little to lift the growing feeling of discontent in and around the club and sit-in protest against unpopular American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett at the final whistle only highlighted problems yet to be overcome.

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Thor Zakariassen ©