An early goal from Lazar Markovic was enough for Liverpool to secure a 1-0 win over 10-man Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in the Premier League on Saturday.
Liverpool wanted a penalty just a few minutes into the match when Markovic and Wes Brown tangled in the box, but referee Craig Pawson was not swayed by the visitors’ appeals.
The Serbia international did secure his first Premier League goal inside the opening 10 minutes though, as the ball fell to him on the edge of the box, leaving him to drive towards the goal before firing past Costel Pantilimon.
Steven Gerrard had a chance to double their advantage midway through the first half but his volley was deflected wide, while Markovic was denied a brace by the post with an ambitious strike from the edge of the box.
The woodwork came to Sunderland’s rescue again a few minutes later when Jordan Henderson tried to fire in, but the goal would not have counted because of a handball in the build-up.
Markovic continued to cause problems for the Sunderland defenders early in the second half as he burst through just moments after the restart, but his finish was just wide.
Sunderland’s chances of a comeback were dealt a blow moments later when Liam Bridcutt picked up his second booking of the match, leaving the home side a man short for over 40 minutes.
Liverpool picked up a string of bookings in a scrappy 10-minute spell as they struggled against a determined Sunderland, but their man advantage started to tell later on.
Philippe Coutinho attempted to put the win beyond doubt with a shot from outside the box, but the finish was just wide of Pantilimon’s post.
The goalkeeper was needed again when Mario Balotelli came off the bench to attempt to squeeze the ball in from a tight angle, while Coutinho tried another shot.
Henderson tried to double the advantage inside the final 10 minutes when Liverpool won a free kick just outside the box, but could not curl the ball into the top corner.
Youngster Mikael Mandron was brought on for the final few minutes for Gus Poyet’s side, but the French-born winger headed the ball just high in stoppage time as Sunderland tried to force a late equaliser.
Pantilimon went forward as Sunderland won a corner in the final moments, but the goalkeeper was unable to make the difference up front.
The result keeps Liverpool eighth in the table, while Sunderland sit 14th, just three points clear of the relegation zone.