Live Commentary: Liverpool 2-1 Sunderland - as it happened

Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mate Jordan Henderson during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield on March 26, 2014
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Sports Mole brings you live text coverage of the Premier League encounter between title-chasing Liverpool and struggling Sunderland at Anfield.

Liverpool moved to within one point of Premier League leaders Chelsea this evening courtesy of a 2-1 victory over struggling Sunderland at Anfield.

The hosts took the lead six minutes before half time when Steven Gerrard fired a free kick past Vito Mannone from 20 yards to break the deadlock.

That lead was doubled three minutes after the restart as Daniel Sturridge curled an effort into the top corner, but a Ki Sung-Yueng strike with 15 minutes to go made for a nervous end to the match for Liverpool.

They managed to hold on, however, and you can read how they picked up the vital three points courtesy of Sports Mole's live play-by-play coverage of the match below.


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7pmGood evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for tonight's Premier League encounter between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield. Both teams are desperate for a victory for very different reasons, so we should have an entertaining fixture on our hands. Let's start with a look at the hosts...

7.02pmLiverpool come into this match in superb form and with a very real chance of winning their first league title for 24 years. The Reds have hit form at the perfect time, winning six league matches on the trot to keep the pressure on Manchester City and Chelsea - both of whom still have to visit Anfield before the end of the season.

7.04pmVictory for the Reds would see them move back up to second in the table having been knocked down to third by Manchester City's derby win over United last night. Tonight's game also acts as Liverpool's game in hand over league leaders Chelsea, so a win would send them just one point behind the Blues. Given their recent form, it is hard to see anything but a home win, but Rodgers will be keen to avoid complacency as anything less than three points today could prove fatal to their title aspirations.

7.06pmWhen analysing Liverpool's season so far, it is not hard to see why they are competing for the title. They boast the best attacking record in the top flight having scored 82 goals this season - already more than they have ever managed in a 38-game Premier League campaign before, and they still have eight games to play. Having scored 24 goals in their last six outings, it is certainly not out of the question for them to break the 100-goal barrier this season.

7.08pmOn the other hand, it is also plain to see what could be their Achilles heel in the title race. The defence has leaked too many goals this season, and only the attacking strength is saving Liverpool. Should the goals dry up, Liverpool would be in danger of slipping down the table as they have conceded more than any other team in the top five this season. Indeed, their 38 goals conceded is a full 15 more than leaders Chelsea and 11 more than City.

7.10pmThe strikeforce is not showing any signs of drying up, however. With Luis Suarez in blistering form with 28 goals from 25 league appearances this season, and Sturridge supporting him with the second-highest goal tally in the league this season, Liverpool have by far the most potent attacking duo in the league. In fact, they are already the third-most potent attacking force in a single season in Premier League history, and two more goals today would see them overtake Sutton and Shearer in second on that list. The Reds are also now only the fourth team in Premier League history to have scored three or more goals in six consecutive games.

7.12pmTheir form has reflected such free-scoring ways, with six wins in a row and no defeats in their last 11. They have not been beaten in the league in 2014, while the FA Cup match against Arsenal is their only defeat in all competitions since the turn of the year. They have played 14 matches in that time, winning 11 of them. In their 11 games since their last defeat, they have found the back of the net 38 times - a tally that we expect to grow tonight.

7.14pmAt home, things are looking even better for Liverpool. They have just come off the back of three very impressive away victories on the trot, but it is at Anfield where they have really shone this season. They have only lost one game and dropped five points in front of their own fans, winning 14 of their 16 home matches. In addition to results, they have produced some stunning performances, notably sweeping aside the likes of Arsenal and Everton.

7.16pmThat makes for a very daunting challenge for a Sunderland side really struggling at the moment. They are currently 18th in the Premier League and very much embroiled in a competitive relegation battle - although survival is still in their own hands. The Black Cats have two, and in some cases three games in hand over the teams around them in the table, but they still need to make those count. If asked whether he would rather have the points on the board or the games in hand, I'm sure Gus Poyet would opt for the former.

7.18pmThat is particularly the case when one of the games in hand is tonight - a match that even the most ardent Sunderland fan will not be expecting much from. Poyet is likely to tell his team to go out and play without fear and with freedom as they have nothing to lose against a rampant Liverpool side. They do, however, have plenty to gain as an unlikely victory would lift them out of the bottom three, dropping Crystal Palace below the dotted line on goal difference.

7.20pmIt has been a strange season for the Black Cats so far. The eccentric Paolo Di Canio was axed early into the campaign, since when Poyet has picked up some memorable results but not enough points. Victories over Newcastle, in addition to their unlikely but ultimately unsuccessful runs in both cup competitions, will live long in the memory of Sunderland fans, yet they still could be playing in the second tier next season. It has been a season of highs and lows for them.

7.22pmIf they are to avoid end the season on a low, then they need to improve their form sooner rather than later. They are without a win in their last five matches in all competitions - including their defeat in the League Cup final and exit from the FA Cup - while they haven't scored a single goal in their last three. Indeed, the last time they did find the back of the net was at the start of this month when they took the lead in that League Cup final.

7.24pmIn the Premier League, they haven't won any of their last four matches - the most recent of which was a demoralising 2-0 defeat to Norwich at the weekend. A similar performance tonight could well see the Black Cats on the end of a cricket score, which will do nothing for the confidence that has been slowly sapping away since their last league victory - the 3-0 derby win over Newcastle at the start of February.

7.26pmThe Black Cats have a huge game against West Ham on Monday, which Poyet will be looking at as a much more likely source of points than tonight's match. Victory for his side against the Hammers would not only give them a huge boost but could also drag West Ham back into the mix after they looked to have escaped it with their spell of four straight wins. However, their first task will be to come out of tonight's game intact.

7.28pmOne problem area for Sunderland has been discipline this season, having received a league-high seven red cards already. Being reduced to 10 men against a Liverpool side bursting with pace would be a death sentence for their already slim chances in the match, so Poyet will be telling his side to watch their temper a little today. On the other hand, their best chance of getting at Liverpool may be to put in a combative performance, and the inclusion of the likes of Cattermole and Bridcutt in midfield certainly suggests that Piyet isn't too worried about that disciplinary record.

7.30pmTEAM NEWS: The teams are in for both sides, and the news from the hosts is that Rodgers has named an unchanged team to the one that beat Cardiff 6-3 at the weekend. That means that Coutinho holds on to his place, with Sterling once again having to settle for a spot on the bench. Sunderland, meanwhile, make five changes to their side, including a return to Anfield for Andrea Dossena. Full teams news for both sides coming up...

7.32pmLIVERPOOL STARTING XI: Mignolet; Flanagan, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger; Gerrard, Allen, Henderson, Coutinho; Suarez, Sturridge

7.32pmLIVERPOOL SUBS: Jones, Sterling, Aspas, Sakho, Lucas, Cissokho, Moses

7.34pmSUNDERLAND STARTING XI: Mannone; Bardsley, Dossena, Brown, O'Shea; Vergini, Cattermole, Bridcutt; Giaccherini, Altidore, Wickham

7.34pmSUNDERLAND SUBS: Ki, Larsson, Johnson, Colback, Roberge, Scocco, Ustari

7.36pmSo, what can we make of those two teams? Well, there are no real surprises in the Liverpool side as Rodgers sees fit to name the same XI. Sterling and Coutinho had been rotated in recent weeks, but the Brazilian holds on to his place today, while Sterling will likely be used off the bench as an impact sub. Coutinho will play at the front of Liverpool's new diamond formation, with Gerrard as the anchor man and Henderson and Allen playing in the centre.

7.38pmThe defence has been the shakiest part of the team for Liverpool this season, but they won't be expected too tough an examination today. Only Palace have scored fewer goals in the league this season than Sunderland, and the likes of Johnson and Flanagan are likely to spend more of their time in the opposition half than their own. Clean sheets are relatively rare for Liverpool, and that will be a target for them tonight. Skrtel, meanwhile, has proved himself to be a threat at the other end of the field and will be looking to add more goals to his tally following his brace against Cardiff.

7.40pmWhen it comes to Liverpool this season, however, it is almost all about the front two. Sturridge has been in superb form and proved himself to be one of the most clinical finishers in the league, providing a perfect foil to the brilliance of Suarez alongside him. As a duo, they are on course to be the highest scoring strike partnership in a single season in Premier League history and, occupying the top two positions in the goalscoring charts, they will be confident of added further to their tallies tonight.

7.42pmSuarez deserves a mention all to himself, however. The Uruguayan netted another hat-trick at the weekend, taking his season total to a staggering 28 in 25 matches. That is already a joint record for a Liverpool striker in the Premier League era, matching Robbie Fowler's mark. Two more goals would see him become the first player since Ian Rush in 1986-87 to score 30 league goals in a season for the Reds. Suarez also tops the assists charts and has either scored or set up 39 goals in his 25 games this season. Only Alan Shearer, Andy Cole and Thierry Henry have ever been directly involved in more goals in a single league season - and Suarez still has eight games to go.

7.44pmSunderland face the unenviable task of trying to stop Suarez and co, and their lineup certainly suggests that they will be intent of preventing the hosts from playing rather than going for it themselves. The likes of Adam Johnson and Sebastian Larsson being left on the bench speaks volumes with the more combative Cattermole and Bridcutt in the middle. It seems to be damage limitation from Poyet, and you can't really blame him.

7.46pmUp front, there is an immediate inclusion for Connor Wickham, who was recalled from his loan at Leeds recently. He has shown plenty of potential in his young career so far, but has never really managed it on the big stage. Tonight would be a perfect chance for him to do that and, if he can link up well with the power of Altidore then it could cause the Liverpool defence problems. Giaccherini will also be a threat for the defence, who will know all too well that he has already scored past them once this season. A notable absentee is Fabio Borini, who is ineligible to play against his parent club.

7.48pmAnother absentee, this time at the back, is Marcos Alonso, who begins a suspension today. That means that Andrea Dossena returns to Anfield having spent a two-year spell with Liverpool earlier in his career. Indeed, he was involved in Liverpool's last genuine title challenge, when Manchester United pipped them to the post in 2009. The experience of Brown and O'Shea could be crucial in today's match, while Bardsley has proved himself to be an important player under Poyet and can be a threat in the opposition box too.

7.50pmPREDICTION: We're 10 minutes away from kickoff at Anfield, which means that it is time for my match prediction! In truth, I can see nothing but a home win in this match - and a convincing one at that. Often teams who have not been in a title challenge before show signs of nerves in the run-in, but Liverpool are playing with such freedom and confidence at the moment that I can't see a slip-up here. I'll go for a 4-0 win to the Reds, with Suarez getting a second consecutive hat-trick.

7.52pmAs mentioned earlier, Suarez has been in impeccable form recently, and his record against Sunderland is also very impressive. The reverse fixture earlier this season was the Uruguayan's first game back after his ban and he was immediately back in the goals, scoring twice. That made it five in his last three games against the Black Cats, while he has seven in six league meetings overall.

7.54pmSunderland have a pretty woeful record against the Reds in general. They have only won this fixture three times in the Premier League era, and none of those wins came at Anfield. Indeed, the last time they won away against Liverpool was way back in October 1983, when Gary Rowell scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot. They have also only scored five goals in 12 Premier League appearances against the Reds.

7.56pmThere is one more Premier League game taking place this evening, and it is a potentially big one at the bottom as West Ham host Hull. That one kicked off at 7.45pm, and you can follow live coverage of it with us here. Alternatively, I will also be keeping you up to date with major events from that match as and when they happen.

7.58pmThe teams are now out in a raucous Anfield atmosphere as the home fans look forward to another home rout. Sunderland will be desperate to avoid that, but they face a tough task to stop a Liverpool side full of confidence. On the other hand, the hosts cannot afford to become complacent in these sorts of matches and will look to register an early goal in order to prevent any nerves growing.

1 minKICKOFF: Sunderland get us underway in a huge match for both teams. A home win would raise hope of the title returning to Anfield even further, while any points for Sunderland would be a big and unexpected bonus for the visitors.

1 minAn early moment of worry for Sunderland as Sturridge's cross is just too high for Allen in the box. Vergini bundles the ball back towards his own goal from close range, but it lacks the power to trouble Mannone, who hacks it clear.

2 minLiverpool come forward again and the ball eventually falls to Johnson on the right. The crowd urge him to shoot, and he duly obliges but smashes his effort well off target.

4 minDecent football from Sunderland as the ball is lofted over to Dossena, who knocks the ball back to Giaccherini. However, the midfielder can't control it and the ball runs to a red shirt. He had taken the ball down he would have been in a good position.

5 minCoutinho picks up a square ball from Henderson before moving the ball onto his right foot and trying to bend an effort in from at least 30 yards out. He gets plenty of power and curl on his effort, but it flies comfortably over the bar.

6 minO'Shea come through the back of Sturridge with a push, and the striker doesn't need a second invitation to go down. Liverpool have a free kick in a very good position. If Suarez could have picked a place to have a free kick, this would probably be it. What can he make of it?

7 minCLOSE! It is a decent effort from the Uruguayan as he gets it over the wall with pace and curl. However, he just can't get it back down in time as it fizzes just over the bar.

8 minCattermole comes out from midfield to win the ball back before playing it to Bridcutt. The former Brighton midfielder lets fly from a long way out, but his effort goes well over the bar.

10 minSunderland have made a solid start to this match, which will be very pleasing for Poyet. Often Liverpool have blown teams away in the opening 20 minutes or so of games at Anfield, but the visitors are coping so far.

10 minSHOT! Henderson plays the ball in to Sturridge on the edge of the box, and the England striker moves it onto his left foot before sending a powerful effort whistling over the bar. Both he and Suarez have now fired warning shots in the opening 10 minutes.

12 minUPDATE: Big news from the other match of the evening as West Ham have taken the lead against Hull through a Mark Noble penalty. The Tigers have also been reduced to 10 men, with McGregor seeing red for the challenge that resulted in the spot kick.

13 minSunderland come forward down the left and the ball eventually falls to Bardsley on the edge of the box. His volley takes a deflection that makes it easier for Agger to block, but the visitors had plenty of men forward and got into a promising position there.

15 minLiverpool string a nice couple of passes together from a throw on the right. Suarez slips the ball through to Johnson, who gets into a good position before pulling it back to Allen. However, the linesman has his flag up against the Liverpool right-back, who was in fact onside when the ball was played to him.

17 minPoyet will be happy with how things have gone so far. Liverpool have certainly not had things all their own way and, so far, the visitors have dealt with the likes of Suarez and Sturridge well. It remains to be seen whether they can keep that up, but it is so far so good for the Black Cats.

18 minSuarez comes down the left and pings a beauty of a cross into the middle with the outside of his right boot. It is just too high for Sturridge, who stretches to reach it but can't steer it goalwards. That came at a price, too, as it appears that Sturridge has hurt is neck while going for it.

20 minAlmost brilliant from Coutinho as he exchanges passes with Suarez before beating one man and attempting to lift the ball over to the Uruguayan in the box. However, his chip is just about cut out and Sunderland eventually win a free kick for a foul by Allen.

22 minStill nothing to report in terms of chances for either side in this match. Liverpool have come closest with a couple of efforts from Suarez and Sturridge that whistled over the bar, but Mannone is yet to be really tested.

24 minThis isn't quite the free-flowing Liverpool performance that we have become accustomed to seeing recently. Sunderland are proving to be a tough nut to crack for the Reds at the moment.

26 minSunderland have been good at getting out to Liverpool's dangermen quickly so far. Gerrard isn't being given time on the ball, even in his deeper role, while Coutinho, Sturridge and Suarez are usually surrounding by yellow shirts soon after receiving the ball.

27 minSuarez lays the ball back to Allen, who moves the ball out to the right in order to create space to shoot. He is a little off balance when he does eventually let fly, however, and the ball does not trouble Mannone in the Sunderland goal.

28 minCoutinho looks to pick a way through the Sunderland defence with a chipped pass looking for Henderson's buccaneering run into the box. However, it is too long for the former Sunderland midfielder and Mannone collects.

30 minConsidering what Liverpool have done to the likes of Everton and Arsenal at Anfield so far this season, this has been a very impressive opening half an hour for the Black Cats. It is highly unlikely that they can keep Liverpool from a creating a chance for the full 90 minutes, but it has certainly been a good start so far.

32 minIt has been a disciplined performance from Sunderland so far. They haven't made any major strides in an attacking sense, but defensively they are holding firm with their back five protected by Cattermole and Bridcutt. This looks like it will have to be a patient performance from the hosts.

34 minThe pressure from Liverpool has been persistent so far, and already Sunderland's defence seems to be getting dangerously deep inside their own box. For all of the hosts' possession, though, they are yet to make Mannone work.

35 minSHOT! A Sunderland attack breaks down and Suarez is quick to launch a counter having escaped the attentions of Cattermole. He tries to curl an effort into the far corner, but his effort goes wide.

37 minYELLOW CARD! The first card of the night goes to Vergini, and he is a lucky boy that it is only a yellow. Suarez appeared to be through on goal before being dragged down from behind by the defender. Brown was also coming back, but the referee has been lenient there. Liverpool have a free kick in a good position, though.

39 minGOAL! Liverpool 1-0 Sunderland (Steven Gerrard)

39 minSuperb from Gerrard. The free kick is central and Mannone does not know who is going to hit it, with Suarez, Gerrard and Agger all in close attendance. It is the skipper who takes on the responsibility, curling it brilliantly into the top corner. The sense of relief around Anfield is palpable.

40 minYELLOW CARD! Sunderland have a second yellow card as Bardsley goes into the book for a challenge from behind on Flanagan.

42 minSAVE! Wickham picks the ball up in midfield and weaves in and out to create space to shoot. He eventually does go for goal from 20 yards, but his effort deflects off Skrtel and draws a save from Mignolet.

44 minSunderland have responded well to going behind, making the first real forays into the Liverpool third. They have a few corners in quick succession, but nothing comes of them. Liverpool will be looking to protect this lead until half time now.

45 minDangerous play from Vergini as he dives in on Suarez, who just flicks the ball over his leg before being tripped by the defender. Considering he could have seen red for his earlier challenge, he is very lucky not to get a second yellow there.

45 minThere will be just the one minute of added time at the end of this first half.

45+1 minHALF TIME: Liverpool 1-0 Sunderland

8.50pmKevin Friend blows for the end of the first half, and Liverpool go into the break with a narrow lead after a tight opening 45 minutes. It hasn't been the Liverpool goal-fest that I expected, and Sunderland deserve a lot of credit for that. They have defended well, but just couldn't last until half time.

8.52pmThe goal was a piece of individual brilliance from the captain Steven Gerrard, and it seemed that it would only take a special moment to break the deadlock. Gerrard fired a fine free kick past the despairing dive of Mannone from 20 yards after Vergini had hauled down Suarez, who looked to be through on goal.

8.54pmIn truth, Vergini is lucky to still be on the field following that tackle. It wasn't a particularly nasty one, but he did bring down Suarez when the Uruguayan was in a very good position. The saving grace for the Sunderland defender may have been the presence of Brown, but it certainly looked like a goalscoring opportunity. Vergini then also threw himself into a challenge later in the half which could have easily drawn a second yellow.

8.56pmThe Black Cats had been doing very well up until the goal, frustrating Liverpool and not allowing the likes of Gerrard, Suarez and Sturridge to play their usual game. It has been a disciplined and stubborn defensive performance, but they will need to show a little more in an attacking sense in the second half if they want to get anything out of this game.

8.58pmThat, in turn, could create more space for Liverpool to hurt the Black Cats, so it is a tough balance for Poyet to strike in the second half. He is likely to stick with his slightly defensive tactics for the first 30 minutes of the half as, while it stays 1-0, they still have a chance to get back into it. However, they would not have been expecting much from this match, so anything they do get will be a big bonus.

9pmUPDATE: There has been an early goal in the second half of the other Premier League match taking place tonight, and it is 10-man Hull who have got it. They are now level at 1-1 with West Ham thanks to a Nikica Jelavic strike.

46 minKICKOFF: Liverpool get is underway at the start of this second half, Cna they hold on to their lead or will Sunderland come back into this match? No changes for either side, which is something of a surprise given Vergini is walking a tightrope with that yellow card.

46 minBright start to the half from Liverpool as Johnson comes down the right flank. The ball eventually falls back to Suarez, who tries to curl an effort into the far top corner but sends his shot high over the bar.

48 minUPDATE: West Ham have regained the lead just moments after Hull levelled the scores. This time it is a Chester own goal that has put the Hammers ahead against the 10-man Tigers.

48 minGOAL! Liverpool 2-0 Sunderland (Daniel Sturridge)

48 minLiverpool have their second, and it is a beauty from Sturridge! Henderson gives the ball to the England man, who moves it onto his left foot before calling the ball into the top corner. It took a deflection that lifted it further away from Mannone, who could only grasp at thin air.

50 minLiverpool pour forward immediately looking for a third and Suarez finds himself in a very good position on the edge of the box. Just as he is about to pull the trigger, he is clipped from behind by Cattermole but - with his decision seemingly whether it is a free kick or penalty - Kevin Friend doesn't give anything. Very strange decision.

52 minWhat a start to the second half for Liverpool that is, though. They will have been eager to get that second goal to give themselves a bit of breathing space, and Sturridge's strike ensures that they have got it nice and early. The pressure is now off the hosts, who look to be on course for a seventh straight league win.

53 minLovely play from Coutinho as he drives forward from midfield, eluding a couple of tackles before pinging the ball out to Sturridge with the outside of his boot. Sturridge's cross is cleared, but there is a growing swagger to Liverpool's play now.

54 minCHANCE! Suarez has been responsible for plenty of goals this season, but he has just prevented one for his own side! The ball was played back to Sturridge on the edge of the box and he curled an effort towards the far corner, only for Suarez to inadvertently block it. He tried to atone for his actions by squeezing it in, but Mannone made the save.

56 minThe ref has been very lenient with a few challenges this evening, and the Anfield faithful aren't happy with it. Sunderland are lucky to have 11 men still on the field, while there have been a couple of other tackles that he has let go when free kicks should have been awarded. Still, it is allowing the game to flow nicely, so it is enhancing it as a spectacle.

58 minHenderson is caught in possession and Sunderland have their clearest chance to attack of the half. However, Altidore opts against a shot from 20 yards, instead feeding the ball to Giaccherini, who is offside.

59 minCLOSE! Fantastic play from Suarez as he controls a raking Gerrard pass brilliantly, taking it in his stride and driving into the box. He cuts onto his right before whipping a fine effort narrowly past the post. That would have been some goal.

60 minLiverpool threaten again as Johnson comes down the right flank before sending a low ball into the box that Sturridge is just short of turning goalwards. Mannone spills it, but there are no red shirts ready to take advantage so he collects at the second attempt.

61 minSUNDERLAND SUBS: Double change for the visitors as Adam Johnson and Ki come on for Giaccherini and Wickham. That is quite an attacking change for Poyet, which is good to see.

62 minVergini is lucky to still be on the pitch, but after this he was almost wishing he had been sent off! The ball comes into the box low and, with no red shirts near the defender, he turns the ball just over his own crossbar. He never looked comfortable there.

63 minThe two Sunderland subs look to combine as Ki gives it to Johnson, who returns the favour with a chipped pass into the area. However, it is just too far ahead of Ki, who stretches for it but can't connect.

65 minCHANCE! Lovely build-up play from Liverpool again as they come forward down the left. Suarez dinks the ball for Coutinho to run onto inside the box, but he just can't get the ball up and over Mannone, who plucks it out of the air.

66 minSuarez is getting more room to manoeuvre now, and he is beginning to cause plenty of problems. This time he latches on to a chipped pass and tries to lift it back into the middle for Sturridge, but his cross is too long and is nodded behind for a corner.

68 minSunderland are beginning to ask a few questions in an attacking sense now, and Liverpool will be just as keen to keep a clean sheet as they will be to add to their advantage. The defence has been their weak point so far this season, so any clean sheet will be treasured.

69 minSHOT! Coutinho looks for a third for his side as he whips an effort towards goal from 20 yards. There was plenty of pace on the strike, but it was straight at Mannone, who made a comfortable save.

71 minOFF THE BAR! My word, Cattermole has almost scored a screamer! A long ball came in from the right flank that Johnson knocked back to the midfielder with a lovely cushioned volley. Cattermole charges on to it and hammers a superb half volley towards the top corner, but it clatters off the bar with Mignolet well beaten. Brilliant effort.

72 minOFF THE BAR! Now Liverpool have hit the woodwork! Again it is almost a lovely goal as Coutinho flicks the ball back for Sturridge, who curls his effort towards the top corner with his weaker right foot. As with Mignolet moments ago, Mannone was beaten, but the ball came back off the bar.

74 minLiverpool come forward with numbers and have a very promising attack as Coutinho comes forward down the left. However, the Brazilian holds on to the ball for a little too long and is held up by O'Shea. The Sunderland man eventually looks to clip Coutinho in the box, but the referee waves claims for a penalty away. There was contact, but Coutinho looked to have slipped anyway.

76 minSunderland are certainly not giving up on this one. The substitutes have made a difference and they are threatening Liverpool at times now.

76 minGOAL! Liverpool 2-1 Sunderland (Ki Sung-Yueng)

76 minSunderland have a goal back! It is a sloppy goal from the hosts' point of view as a corner travels all the way into the box, bouncing through to Ki, who simply nods in from close range. That was really poor marking from Flanagan, and the Reds face a nervy final 15 minutes now.

78 minLIVERPOOL SUB: Rodgers responds to that goal with a change, and it is Sturridge who makes way to be replaced by Raheem Sterling.

80 minSuarez spins away from Cattermole before going down under the challenge of Bridcutt. The subsequent free kick draws ironic cheers from the home fans, who have felt hard done by by the ref today.

81 minCLOSE! It is Suarez who takes the free kick despite Gerrard's goal earlier, and it is not a bad effort at all from the Uruguayan. He curls a strike from 30 yards just over the bar, with the ball rippling the top of the net on its way over.

83 minSUNDERLAND SUB: Andrea Dossena goes off to a good reception from his former club, with Jack Colback replacing him.

85 minThe Liverpool fans are getting a bit restless now as the final five minutes turns into a nervous affair for them. They are more focused on hanging on to their one-goal lead now, which not many people would have expected before the match.

87 minThe game has got a little scrappy here, with neither side really able to keep possession for any good length of time. Sunderland are still looking for an equaliser and are threatening to get it in the closing stages.

89 minCHANCE! Huge chance for Sunderland to get a late equaliser! Johnson whips an inviting free kick into the middle that O'Shea flicks on from close range, but he can't steer it on target and the ball rolls through to safety.

90 minThere will be three minutes of added time at the end of this match. Three more minutes for Liverpool to hang on!

90+2 minSterling does very well to win a free kick off Cattermole on the wing, wasting a few more precious seconds. This is very much a case of Liverpool holding on now, taking the ball into the corner to see out the victory.

90+3 minFULL TIME: Liverpool 2-1 Sunderland

9.52pmLiverpool hold on for a huge victory that moves them back up to second in the Premier League table, but it was certainly not plain sailing for Brendan Rodgers's side. They were holding on for dear life at the end of that match against a spirited Sunderland side who showed plenty of desire, determination and quality.

9.54pmThe hosts opened the scoring late in the first half through captain Steven Gerrard, who fired a free kick past Mannone to settle Liverpool nerves. It appeared like they would cruise to the three points when Daniel Sturridge doubled their lead at the start of the second half, but Sunderland responded very well and pulled a goal back with 15 minutes remaining through Ki.

9.56pmThe Black Cats were inches away from scoring on another occasion too as Lee Cattermole rattled the crossbar with a superb effort from the edge of the box. Moments later, Liverpool also struck the woodwork through Sturridge, who curled an effort against the bar.

9.58pmIt was the Reds who come away with a vital three points, however, moving them back up to second in the table and just one point behind leaders Chelsea. It is a seventh straight victory for them, putting them in fine form at a perfect time of the season. With Chelsea and Man City still to come to Anfield, they will be confident of taking what looks like being a thrilling title race all the way to the end of the season. Sunderland, meanwhile, remain in the bottom three but will take plenty of positives out of this performance despite the result.

10pmRight, that is all we have time for this evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for what could prove to be a pivotal day in both the title race and the relegation battle as Liverpool hold out for a nervy 2-1 win over Sunderland at Anfield. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for reaction and analysis, both of which will be on site shortly. Goodbye for now!

Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on March 16, 2014
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