EPL Results: No Goal-Fest, But Liverpool Show Fight to Top Sunderland as Suarez and Sturridge Create History
By Deepak Vikraman | March 27, 2014 2:59 PM EST
Liverpool are not going away, you know; they are definitely in it for the long haul. There were no goals every second minute this time at Anfield, no Luis Suarez spectaculars, and no making the opponent's defence look more porous than a sand castle on an island. But, there were the three points that Liverpool seem to have made their own of late, courtesy a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Sunderland in the English Premier League.
Captain fantastic Steven Gerrard opened the scoring for Liverpool six minutes before halftime, after a frustrating opening 38 minutes, before Daniel Sturridge extended his team's lead early in the second period, while also creating a little bit of history on the way.
Ki Sung-Yueng pulled one back for Sunderland with 14 minutes remaining in the game, but Liverpool's resolve held firm as Brendan Rodgers' men pulled to within one point of leaders Chelsea, and two ahead of Manchester City, albeit with the Sky Blues having played two games less.
"It was a game in which we were the dominant team, but no matter how dominant you are, when it gets to 2-1 it's always going to be tight for the last 10 minutes or so," Rodgers said after the game. "I thought we showed great character and we certainly deserved to win the game.
"It was always going to be difficult because Sunderland came with a 3-5-2 and sat in with a block of three centre-halves, two wing-backs tucked in, two defensive midfielders and the goalkeeper, so we found it difficult to penetrate that eight in the opening period.
"Once we got the goal, the fluency of the game was good for us and at 2-0 we looked like we were going to go on and score more goals. But poor defending at a corner when we switched off at the back post and, all of a sudden, Sunderland have some oxygen.
"Credit to them, they kept fighting because they're in a difficult position, but it showed the character of our team to stay with it, showed a winning mentality and finished with another great victory."
Gerrard opened the scoring via a freekick, after Suarez was brought down by Santiago Vergini just when it looked like the Uruguayan was going to add to his tally yet again.
Sturridge then got to the 20-goal mark in the Premier League this season, and with it, along with Suarez, who has 28, becoming the first Liverpool strike pair in 50 years to achieve the feat of two Reds players scoring 20 goals or more in one season.
In the other game of the night, West Ham edged Hull City 2-1 at Upton Park, with the Tigers having to play with ten men for the majority of the game, after goalkeeper Alan McGregor was given a straight red card for a foul on Mohamed Diame, although replays suggested the West Ham midfielder had handled the ball just prior to the incident.
However, West Ham, while far from being at their best, took advantage with Mark Noble converting the resultant penalty in the 26th minute. Hull fought back gamely, though, with the away team equalising after Tom Huddlestone's speculative effort took a nick off teammate Nikica Jelavic to wrong-foot West Ham goalkeeper Adrian in the 48th minute.
However, the luck would turn West Ham's way six minutes later with Guy Demel's cross taking a wicked deflection off James Chester before looping over goalkeeper Steve Harper to nestle into the net.
The home team's fans, though, were far from happy with their side's performance, booing their team off at the final whistle despite the three points and the fact that it was their first win in four matches.
"I've not experienced that before in the time I've been in the game," Sam Allardyce said about the boos from the home fans, with the West Ham manager cupping his hands to his ear in apparent disbelief when the discontentment was shown as the players walked off the field.
"Obviously, for us, it was all about coming off with three points, whether we played brilliantly, indifferently or not so good. It was about getting the three points.
"The lads have gone about it and, when they've come off the field, they've got the three points and that is what matters."
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