After The Match 


Sunderland-Liverpool 0-2 (0-2)     30.11.05                         PL
Goals: Garcia (30), Gerrard (45)
Team: Reina, Finnan, Riise, Hyypia, Carragher, Sissoko, Gerrard, Alonso, Garcia, Crouch, Morientes
Subs: Kewell (Morientes 61), Traore (Crouch 79),
Warnock (Riise 90)
Not used: Carson, Pongolle
Yellow: Sissoko (51)
Red: Sissoko (65)
Referee: Phil Dowd
Attendance: 32,697
Shots on target: 3-6
Shots off target: 5-6
Possession: 61-39
Fouls conceded: 15-11
Corners: 3-4
Yellow: 0-1


HEADLINES "Finishing with 10 men was the worst thing..."
     Rafael Benitez

0112: Warning: Don't cross the boss
0112: Gerrard: We are improving
0112: Benitez hails solid display
0112: McCarthy: It was an unfair fight
3011: Liverpool pile on misery for McCarthy



Warning: Don't cross the boss

Sports View with Echo Sports Editor John Thompson

Some footballers just don't seem to get it. And it never ceases to amaze. They think they can cross the boss, pull a face, throw a sulk, lay down the law - and they'll get away with it. Why?

If they are genuinely ambitious and want to play in a winning team challenging for honours, or at least a club punching above its weight, surely they must know they'll need a boss as strong as steel?

And if he is, he's only going to react one way to anyone who publicly takes him on or cocks a snook.

The history of football is littered with the battered bodies of players who simply got too big for their boots and foolishly took on their manager. But recently there have been a spate of episodes where players -usually those with something or everything still to prove -have thrown their rattle out.

Of course the biggest culprit most recently was Roy Keane.

Nothing to prove okay. But for all his prowess and status, how did he expect Alex Ferguson to react when he went on a club TV channel to berate and humiliate the players his manager has bought?

Now Keane's out the door, bringing entirely the wrong end to a career which most footballers can only dream about.

At the weekend we heard on-loan Anthony Le Tallec telling Rafael Benitez he wouldn't put up with much more messing around, then Djibril Cisse pulling a face for both the crowd and the cameras to see when he was substituted at Manchester City on Saturday. Substituted, by the way, in a game Liverpool then went on to win.

You can understand him perhaps being puzzled, even perturbed at being removed so early in the second half. But shaking his head at the manager as he walked off was never going to go ignored. He should have saved it for inside.

Can Cisse and Le Tallec not see the Spaniard, while affable and friendly to everyone he meets, is as tough as old boots and rightly won't tolerate people who seem to put themselves first and the team second?

Cisse has had nothing but support from his manager or the Liverpool fans, despite clearly having aspects of his game which he must accept he needs to improve if he is to remain on the books at Anfield and thrive.

Last night he was sat at home obviously being given time to reflect as the side strolled to victory without him, and this could be the last chance he gets to learn from the mistake.

He's a decent enough chap, someone liked by the Kop and who does have a passion to play. But he has to show right now he can accept the rule of a man who might speak supportively with a smile to the press, but who rightly wont tolerate such dissent.

I hope Cisse learns his lesson. Because players who think they can take on their manager and win are rarely winners in the way which matters. And those who do get their own way via a tantrum invariably play for a weak coach who will never be successful.

Strong teams need strong managers. And strong players know they can't make the boss look like a fool, because they' ll be the loser in the end.

Gerrard: We are improving

By Peter ORourke - Sky Sports

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard believes the signs are good after they moved up to fourth in the table.

Gerrard scored in Liverpool's 2-0 success over Sunderland on Wednesday as The Reds racked up their fifth straight Premiership win.

The England international is delighted with the side's current form and believes they can only get better with the possible arrival of new faces in January.

"We're improving and we are definitely getting better," said Gerrard.

"The manager has made some good signings and we've been working real hard with the defence in training and now we are looking quite solid at the back.

"January's only round the corner for a few more exciting players to join us.

"He (Rafa Benitez) has been quoted as saying we need somebody in down the right and I think we need cover for the central defenders, I'm sure the manager will be busy in January."

Gerrard also singled out Xabi Alonso for special praise after the Spaniard marked his return from injury with a superb performance.

Alonso helped create both goals against Sunderland and Gerrard hailed the former Real Sociedad man as one of best players he has played with.

"It's nice to have him back, he's one of the best passers of the ball I've ever played with," added Gerrard.

"You know if you make the runs he's going to get you the ball, every time he gets the ball I make a run, he doesn't find me all the time but 90 percent of the balls he plays get there."

Benitez hails solid display


Rafael Benitez was delighted with another solid display, despite the dismissal of Mohamed Sissoko, as Liverpool defeated Sunderland 2-0.

The Reds climbed into fourth place on goal difference above Wigan with their sixth win in seven league games and their seventh successive clean sheet.

"We know the most important thing now is to keep going the same, continue doing the same things, trying to play well and score goals and win games," Benitez said.

"You can talk and talk, but at the end of the day, you need to continue winning.

"You can see the team is playing well, controlling games and we have the consistency we needed. We are scoring goals and it is another clean sheet.

"Finishing with 10 men was the worst thing, but we worked hard and we controlled the game. It was more difficult at the end, but we did a good job in defence."

The return of Spaniard Xabi Alonso from an ankle injury proved a key factor as he carved out the openings for both goals, and Benitez was delighted with his contribution.

"He played well," he said. "He is a player who can pass and can keep possession, and he has the intelligence in a game that you need sometimes.

"He can pass the ball and if you have good movement in attack, he is one of the best passers in the world, maybe."

McCarthy: It was an unfair fight

By Rob Lancaster - Sky Sports

Mick McCarthy felt his Sunderland team could have done no more against Liverpool after The Reds sealed a 2-0 win at The Stadium Of Light.

After launching a scathing attack on his players at the weekend after the defeat to Birmingham, the Black Cats boss was pleased with his side's efforts against the reigning European champions, despite the final result.

Goals from Luis Garcia and Steven Gerrard were enough for the visitors to triumph and leave Sunderland still searching for a first home win of the campaign.

"I'm proud of that performance for effort and endeavor," he said. "They've worked extremely hard, until the first goal went in I was very pleased.

"I'm full of admiration for the players, for the way they scrapped and had a go trying to play through them and then trying to get in amongst them in the last 15 minutes.

He added: "We're not playing with the same deck of cards, it was a bit of an unfair fight out there."

McCarthy now must turn his attentions to Saturday's trip to Tottenham, with the Sunderland boss hoping his players may prosper on the road without the pressure of playing in front of their own fans.

"We might cope better away from home, the pressure may be slightly off us," he said.

"We might get the ball down and pass it like we have shown we can do."

Liverpool pile on misery for McCarthy

Xabi Alonso inspired 10-man Liverpool to a sixth win in seven Barclays Premiership games as the Reds climbed into fourth place with victory at Sunderland.

Even Mohamed Sissoko's 65th-minute dismissal and the extension of Peter Crouch's goal drought to 11 minutes short of 24 hours could not halt the Reds' charge as Sunderland slumped to an eighth successive defeat, seven of them in the league.

The game was won within 14 first-half minutes through the invention of Spanish midfielder Alonso, who first played in compatriot Luis Garcia to open the scoring on 31 minutes and then fed skipper Steven Gerrard to make it 2-0 on the stroke of half-time.

Once again the Black Cats, for all their hard work and positive intentions, were simply outclassed in the areas that mattered most, and even a spirited finish could not bring them any relief as the bulk of a crowd of 32,697 went home disappointed for the third time in 11 days.

Gerrard, Alonso and Luis Garcia simply had too much for the home side in the middle of the park, and but for a penalty decision that was not given and a John Arne Riise piledriver which hit the bar, the margin of victory could have been bigger.

Those Sunderland fans who did turn up at the Stadium of Light did so in trepidation, many of them having already conceded that relegation is inevitable and fearing the worst against the European champions.

With Crouch still to find the back of the net in 22 hours and 30 minutes of football for club and country since May 7, there were plenty of takers at the stadium betting shops following the home side's abject surrender against Aston Villa and Birmingham in their last two home games.

Liverpool arrived at the Stadium of Light as the last team to lose a Premiership game on Wearside, some 19 top-flight fixtures ago on December 15, 2002, and despite a spirited opening from the Black Cats, the chances of a repeat were slim.

Manager Mick McCarthy had publicly criticised his players following their capitulation at the weekend and he got the desired response as they gave as good as they got for half an hour, admittedly without causing any genuine problems for Reds keeper Jose Reina and his defence.

However, the concern for Sunderland is that they simply do not boast the class of many of their opponents, and that fact was illustrated graphically twice inside the final 14 minutes of the half.

Only Alonso will know what was in his mind when, deep inside his own half on 31 minutes, he hooked the ball over his shoulder into enemy territory.

However, Luis Garcia anticipated perfectly to outstrip the home defence and slot calmly past advancing keeper Ben Alnwick to open the scoring.

The Black Cats rallied briefly, but they were left with a mountain to climb on the stroke of half-time when Alonso picked out Gerrard's run down the right.

His pass gave the England midfielder the space he needed to surge into the box, but it was his deft touch over Alnwick which left him with the simplest of finishes to pile on the misery for McCarthy's men.

Crouch's barren spell should have come to an end after 1,397 minutes when he found himself unmarked in front of goal when Gerrard's shot came his way.

His initial effort was blocked by Alnwick, but he seemed certain to score from the rebound until he appeared to be hauled down by Steve Caldwell.

Referee Phil Dowd, however, astonishingly waved play on, and the striker's drought continued.

Sunderland's plight reached near comical levels on 52 minutes when Jon Stead, yet to score for his new club, shot for goal in his frustration at being flagged offside, but still could not beat Reina.

Tommy Miller made way for winger Andy Welsh five minutes later, but Liverpool would have been further ahead within seconds had Justin Hoyte not blocked Riise's volley from Crouch's knock-down.

Luis Garcia curled in a 59th-minute left-footed effort, which Alnwick saved, but the arrival of Harry Kewell in place of Fernando Morientes shortly afterwards did little to ease the home side's fears.

However, Liverpool were reduced to 10 men on seven minutes later when midfielder Sissoko, who had earlier been booked for a foul on Liam Lawrence, upended Dean Whitehead and was dismissed.

But it was they who continued to look the more likely scorers, Riise seeing a 74th-minute drive cannon off the crossbar after he had carved his way through the home defence.

Crouch's departure five minutes later left him without a goal in 1,429 minutes, but he was at least able to celebrate another victory for Benitez's in-from side.

Stead might have ended his own drought six minutes from time when Reina fumbled his low shot at the near post, and he then sent a dipping effort over, but even a consolation strike eluded his side.

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Thor Zakariassen