Friday, January 04, 2013

Match Report: Liverpool 3 - 0 Sunderland

Luis Suarez took his Premier League tally to 15 goals for the season by scoring twice to help Liverpool ease to victory against Sunderland.

Watched by new Anfield signing Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling's lobbed goal gave the Reds an early lead.

Suarez doubled Liverpool's advantage soon after, racing into the area before stabbing the ball home.

The Uruguayan then made it 3-0 early in the second half with a close-range strike from Steven Gerrard's pass.

The win means Liverpool have recorded back-to-back league victories for the second time this season and moves them up to eighth in the table.

For Sunderland it was their second successive defeat following the 2-1 loss to Tottenham at the weekend and they remain 14th.

Liverpool's attacking display would have impressed Sturridge, who completed the formalities of his move from Chelsea in the hours before kick-off.

Despite a confident start by Sunderland, it was the home side who were the first to threaten in the 11th minute when Suarez was fouled just outside the area and Stewart Downing curled the resulting free-kick towards the near post, but keeper Simon Mignolet did well to push the ball behind for a corner.

Liverpool's opening goal came eight minutes later. Suarez brought a Gerrard pass under control before expertly lofting the ball over the defence to release Sterling and the young England winger showed great composure to draw out Mignolet before lobbing the ball into the net.

The Sunderland defence was struggling to deal with Liverpool's pacey attacks and the hosts took full advantage by adding a second in the 26th minute.

Gerrard knocked the ball forward for Suarez to chase down the right and, though the Uruguayan was fouled by Carlos Cuellar, he stayed on his feet to charge towards goal and power a neat finish beyond Mignolet.

Despite the two-goal deficit, Sunderland still carried a threat when they got forward and they had a great chance to pull a goal back when Adam Johnson's deep cross found Matthew Kilgallon inside the area, but the defender's half volley was superbly denied by Pepe Reina.

Sterling and Suarez continued to combine well and cause Sunderland problems after the break, and a fine move involving the pair should have brought a third goal five minutes into the second half.

Suarez smartly clipped a Gerrard pass forward to send Sterling clear again, but this time the 18-year-old could not match the composure he showed for his goal as he fizzed a shot well wide.

Liverpool did add a third two minutes later when Gerrard delivered a pass from 60 yards for Suarez to collect and shoot beyond Mignolet from close range.

From then on, Liverpool was firmly in control and had plenty of chances to add to their advantage.

A Gerrard shot deflected off Glen Johnson towards goal but Mignolet did well to push the ball over the bar, before the Sunderland keeper raced out to deny Suarez his hat-trick.

Both Johnson and substitute Joe Allen had efforts ruled out for offside, but with the damage already done, Liverpool comfortably saw out the remainder of the game to ensure 2013 got off to the ideal start.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said: "The star was our team. Luis Suarez got two goals and Raheem Sterling got one but that is their job and the team was brilliant.

"It was the fourth game in a short period of time and their work rate and intensity was incredible. I am very, very happy, it is another win for us and we can look forward to the next game.

"Luis has been absolutely fantastic. He moves well, he is a real threat and he is a real pleasure to work with. He is that Lionel Messi type of player in that he gets kicked all over the place but he gets up and he produces."

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill said: "At half time in the game we felt as if we could have got a goal and we perhaps created the better chances, but we were unable to take them.

"They got the third goal and that was important. If we scored before then it would have got us back into the game but at 3-0, Liverpool are very strong.

"With the Christmas period we have had, if you had said we would get six points from four games against the teams we have played, I probably would have accepted that. It is up to us now, we have some points on board but it is still a tough old time."

Rodgers Swoons Over Triumph

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers was full of compliments after his side's 3-0 hammering of Sunderland at Anfield.

The Reds were two up at the interval thanks to Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez with the Uruguayan striker adding his second to steer the team up to eighth in the Premier League.

"You've got to give massive credit to the players," Rodgers told Sky Sports. "The effort they put into the game, as well as the quality, was phenomenal.

"They were magnificent. You look throughout the country and there are a lot of tired players and performers having had to play four games in such a short period.

"But you look at the intensity and conditioning of our players and the work they put into the game, married with the quality, was fantastic.

"We played some terrific football against a Sunderland side under Martin O'Neill that has been very difficult to beat.

After a testing few months at the helm, the former Swansea boss expressed his pleasure at the long-term prospects of the club.

"Sometimes you only get credit when you win. For us, we've drawn a lot of games and haven't quite got the credit because we haven't won the game," he added.

"But these players over the course of the season have done very, very well and haven't got the points total we deserve. But I believe in the second half of the season we'll be able to up the tempo and we can kick on.

"You see the nature of our game now - our pressing, the intensity, our pressure, the superiority we're gaining in midfield in order to control games and creating many chances - we had 29 shots against Sunderland.

"It's about consistency and hopefully we can get that over the coming months and years."

Henderson: Time To Take My Opportunity

After making his 50th league appearance for Liverpool against his old club on Wednesday, Jordan Henderson pledged to continue working hard and grasp every opportunity Brendan Rodgers gives him.

Having excelled despite illness during the 3-0 victory over QPR on Sunday, the midfielder was impressive again as the Reds swept aside his former employers Sunderland in the Barclays Premier League.

The 22-year-old hopes his recent run of games can be a platform to regular first-team football.

"It's obviously nice to play as many games as you can. I've got to keep doing that and hopefully I can play more games," Henderson told

"I've just been working hard, keep plugging away. Over Christmas there are a lot of games so the whole squad is needed.

"You've got to take the opportunity when it comes. I've enjoyed playing so hopefully I can keep working hard, improving and getting my chance.

"We're very pleased with the performance and the result - I think we defended very well, created lots of chances and overall we deserved to win the game.

"Every time we have started well, we've managed to go on and score a few goals. We'll look to do that all the time. The most important thing is to win the game and we managed to do that."

Alonso Considers Liverpool Return

Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso could make an incredible return to the Premier League after he admitted that he could leave the Spanish giants.

Alonso has 18 months left on his contract and the 31 year old is struggling to agree terms on a new deal.

“I've no idea what will happen,” Alonso told reporters in Spain.

“I have not decided on my future. I will only stay at Real Madrid if I can offer the same level on the pitch as I can now and we will see what happens in the next few months.

“There is always a chance I could go back to the Premier League as I always enjoyed good times there."

Alonso helped Liverpool win the Champions League, FA Cup and Community Shield before adding to his trophy haul in Madrid.

Last season's La Liga title followed the club's Copa del Rey triumph a year earlier while Alonso was an integral part of the Spain sides which won Euro 2008 and 2012, along with the 2010 World Cup.

He was also named the best midfielder in the Spanish top flight last season.

Former Chelsea Winger Offered To Liverpool

Liverpool has been offered the chance to sign former Chelsea winger Ricardo Quaresma, according to reports in Spain.

Quaresma, 29, is a free agent having terminated his deal with Turkish club Besiktas last month.

The Portugal international, who was part of his country's squad at Euro 2012, first came to prominence at Sporting Lisbon and earned a move to Barcelona.

However, he failed to settle at the Nou Camp and rebuilt his career with Porto, before moving on to Inter Milan.

He struggled to make an impact at Inter and joined Chelsea on loan in 2009, but he managed just a handful of appearances in west London.

Despite a strong start at Besiktas he fell out of favour at the club and was released in December.

And now his agent Jorge Mendes, who also represents Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho, has offered the tricky winger to Liverpool, as well as to Valencia and Marseille.

Liverpool Target Hopeful Of Paris Saint-Germain Stay

Liverpool has been dealt a blow in their pursuit of Paris Saint-Germain forward Kevin Gameiro, after the forward revealed his intention to see out the remainder of the season with the Parisian giants.

The Frenchman has been linked with a move to Anfield in recent weeks as Brendan Rodgers seeks to strengthen his attacking options.

Gameiro only joined PSG in the summer of 2011, but the arrivals of Zlatan Ibrahimvovic and Ezequiel Lavezzi from AC Milan and Napoli last summer has seen his first team opportunities limited.

But the 25-year-old has underlined his intention to remain at Parc de Princes until at least the end of the current campaign.

“I have already told everybody that I am a Paris St Germain player and I hope to remain so until the end of the season,” Gameiro said, Sky Sports report.

"I was lucky to score some goals in the first half of the season and I hope that kind of form will allow me to get more first-team opportunities."

Gamiero joined PSG from Lorient for £9 million in the summer of 2011, scoring 14 times in his debut season for the club.

Atletico Rubbish Turan Talk

Atletico Madrid has no intention of allowing reported Liverpool target Arda Turan to leave during the winter window.

The Turkey international is the latest forward-thinking talent to be linked with a January switch to Anfield.

Liverpool has already acquired the services of Daniel Sturridge, and Brendan Rodgers is said to be keen on bringing in Turan to provide ammunition from the flanks.

Atletico are aware of the rumours, but insist there is no substance to them.

Coach Diego Simeone insists no transfer discussions have been held, with there a strong desire on his part to see Turan remain in the Spanish capital.

He said: "First, I have not heard anything and I have seen it a lot. Everyone can comment on whatever you want.

"The important thing is what he shows on the field. Arda is one of the best players. He shows heart in every one of our matches.

"He has a contract with our club and he shows everyone what he has to offer."

Liverpool Complete Sturridge Signing

Liverpool Football Club is delighted to confirm the signing of striker Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea.

The 23-year-old becomes our first signing of the January transfer window after penning a long-term contract at Melwood yesterday.

Afterwards he told of his joy at sealing the deal.

"I am humbled and happy to be here," said Sturridge.

"Brendan Rodgers said he sees me here for a long time - and I also see myself here for a long time. I've not signed here to play for a couple of years and then move on.

"I've signed to be here for as long as possible. It's a humongous club - for me, one of the biggest in the world - and to have the fans and world-class players we have here is amazing."

Sturridge began his professional career at Manchester City, where he finished top-scorer as City lifted the FA Youth Cup in 2008.

In 2009 he signed for Chelsea where he established himself as one of the best young forwards in the country, firing 24 times during his stay at Stamford Bridge.

His form at Chelsea led to full international recognition at the age of just 22.

Having scored 21 goals in 34 appearances for England at youth level, Fabio Capello handed him a senior bow in a friendly against Sweden in November 2011.

He has collected three more caps since and last summer scored twice for Great Britain at the Olympic Games.

Gerrard: Time Is Now For Sturridge

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard insists there can be no excuses from new signing Daniel Sturridge after his £12million arrival at Anfield.

The 23-year-old is already on his third major club, having left Manchester City to join Chelsea but flourished at neither, and that has raised questions about everything from his quality to his temperament.

Sturridge is likely to get more of a chance under Brendan Rodgers than he had at his previous employer but Gerrard said, at some point, the player had to realize his situation and turn potential into regular goals.

"Daniel has the quality. I know he's got it - I've seen it," said the England captain.

"He's suffered a bit at Manchester City and moved on to Chelsea where he hasn't played as much as he wanted but has shown flashes of brilliance.

"I think he's at the age now when he needs to settle down, get a settled club and show consistently what qualities he's got.

"If he can start producing that for us on a weekly basis he can help this club move forward to where we want to be.

"He has said he wants to play football for a big club, the stage is set for him.

"There will be no excuses for him. He will be playing with good players at a great club.

"It's all there for him. He just has to go and grasp it with both hands.

"He's at an age now where he should be performing week in week out."

Sturridge is likely to be Rodgers' main signing of the January window and has been brought in to offer support to leading scorer Luis Suarez.

The Uruguay international's hot run of form shows no signs of abating as two goals in Wednesday night's 3-0 win over Sunderland took him to 15 in the Premier League so far.

But with fellow forward Fabio Borini edging closer to a first-team return Gerrard believes the addition of Sturridge also will improve their hopes of a top-four challenge.

"Daniel's arrival will help the club. He's got power, pace, strength - he has got huge potential," added the midfielder.

"He's another attacking option and if you look at the bigger picture from the beginning of the season up until now, we have been a little bit short in the final third.

"He will add more strength in depth for us and let's hope he's not the last face in January because we certainly need a couple more in."

Suarez lit up Anfield with his two goals, after 18-year-old Raheem Sterling had opened the scoring, and Gerrard admits his team-mate is one of the best around at the moment as he trails Manchester United's Robin van Persie (16) by one in the Premier League top scorers chart.

"He's just world class. There are a handful of players in the world who operate on a different level and he is one of them," he said.

"He can score all types of goals. I was looking in the program at his goal record: for someone who the critics say doesn't score enough, just have a look at his record (Suarez has scored 31 in 64 league games)."

Gerrard's views were echoed by Jim Cassell, who was head of Manchester City's academy during Sturridge's time there.

"Hopefully Liverpool will get the best from Daniel as he has the potential to be a top-class international striker," Cassell told BBC Sport.

"Daniel was exceptional, even as a 13-year-old. He had great pace, fantastic feet and magnificent vision. I couldn't speak too highly of him when he was with us.

"He trained hard, was respectful and always immaculately turned out - I thought he was great. We knew he could go on and achieve great things."

Liverpool Midfielder Planning January Exit

Liverpool midfielder Nuri Sahin is reportedly hoping to end his loan spell at Anfield during the January transfer window in order to play more first-team football elsewhere.

Sahin joined Liverpool ahead of Arsenal during the summer transfer window on a season-long loan from Real Madrid but, reports the Daily Express, is looking to move on only halfway through the season.

Liverpool strived desperately to land the 24-year-old during the summer and managed to beat Arsenal to his signature, despite Sahin reportedly passing a medical with the Gunners.

The Turkey international impressed for Liverpool at the beginning of the campaign but has not played in the Premier League since November, with Brendan Rodgers now seemingly favouring starting with fit again Lucas Leiva.

Sahin, it is reported, now hopes to leave Anfield before the end of January, with both Fulham and former club Borussia Dortmund interested in taking him loan for the remainder of the season.

Joe Cole Completes Move To West Ham

Joe Cole's transfer to West Ham United has finally been wrapped up, it has been confirmed.

The midfielder has left Liverpool on a permanent transfer, signing a two-and-a-half-year deal with the club where he first got his footballing breakthrough. The deal is believed to be a free transfer, although there have been suggestions that Liverpool have handed him a payoff to allow the move to go through.

Cole moved to Liverpool on a free transfer after becoming marginalized at Chelsea, but injuries and poor form ensured that he made just 9 starts for the club, with 26 appearances in total bringing 3 goals.

The player will now be hoping to finally get some regular football under his belt as he works with new manager Sam Allardyce. West Ham, meanwhile, will be hoping that he can help the club climb back up the table and avoid getting caught in a relegation battle.

Sterling Remaining Focused

Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling insists he is keeping his feet on the ground despite his rapid rise to fame.

Sterling, who has only recently turned 18, has played in 20 of his side's 21 top-flight matches and has signed a new five-year contract to keep him at Anfield.

He also scored his second Premier League goal in Liverpool's 3-0 defeat of Sunderland on Wednesday but he is determined to concentrate on his football and grow as a player at Anfield.

"I try not to take in what people are saying and just listen to the manager and the people who have influenced me to play football," he said.

"Hopefully I can just do well and not let it take up too much of my head, just play my normal game and goals and assists will come.

"I don't really listen to anyone apart from people at the football club.

"It is a big step for any 17-18-year-old to come and play in the Premier League with players like Steven Gerrard and the expectation is going to be high week in, week out.

"But as a young player you just have to keep playing.

Millers Capture Liverpool Teen

Rotherham have signed teenage Liverpool striker Adam Morgan on a youth loan, subject to Football League ratification.

The 18-year-old, who has played three times for the Reds in the Europa League this season, will join up with the League Two Millers until February 9 and could make his debut in the FA Cup at Aldershot on Saturday.

Boss Steve Evans revealed he has been after his man since the summer and is grateful to the Merseysiders for allowing Morgan to drop to the bottom tier.

"He is somebody who has been sought after many times buy many clubs, but Liverpool has kept him in house," Evans said.

"He has played in their first team and he has got a great goal record. He is someone I have admired and it's fair to say their manager will want to delete my number because I have been barraging him since early December.

"I've had a conversation with Brendan Rodgers and I've told him how grateful I am that he has allowed him to come and play at this level, because the level we play at was their concern.

"To be fair everything has played a part, our stadium, our attendance, our results and I have just kept asking. I have seen him seven or eight times and we have watched him closely since I tried to get him in the summer."