London - Lazar
Markovic claimed his first Premier League goal as Liverpool continued
their recent upturn in results with a deserved 1-0 win at struggling
Sunderland on Saturday.
The 20 million ($30.3 million, 25.6
million euros) close-season signing from Benfica scored the only goal in
the ninth minute to consolidate Brendan Rodgers's side in eighth place
in the table.
Liverpool have lost just once in their last 13
games, renewing hope of a sustained challenge for a top-four finish in
May and with it a return to the Champions League.
Liverpool are still 10 points behind their tally from this time last
year, when they came close to winning the title before being edged out
by Manchester City.
Any hope Sunderland had of mounting a comeback
disappeared four minutes into the second half when midfielder Liam
Bridcutt saw red after being shown a second yellow card for fouling Emre
The closest they came to troubling ex-Sunderland goalkeeper
Simon Mignolet came just after Bridcutt's departure, when Adam Johnson's
long-range effort struck the bar.
Otherwise, the hosts could have
no complaints after a defeat that left them with just one win from
their last 11 league games, keeping them in danger near the foot of the
Sunderland coach Gus Poyet had urged home supporters to
come to the Stadium of Light to see Steven Gerrard's final Premier
League appearance in the north-east before his move to Major League
Soccer side the LA Galaxy.
Poyet claimed that seeing the Liverpool
captain in action was worth the admission fee alone, and despite being
withdrawn at half-time after sustaining a knock, Gerrard did not
disappoint, playing a part in the goal.Rodgers's
side had a strong early penalty claim turned down when Markovic was
upended in the area by Wes Brown, but they did not have to wait long
before making their early dominance tell.
Liverpool were allowed
time and space to play the ball out from the back, with Markovic
advancing down the visitors' right flank and finding Gerrard, whose
mis-control allowed the ball to reach Fabio Borini.
Pawson played a good advantage as Borini was felled in the area, with
Markovic bundling home the winner from 12 yards for his second goal of
the season in all competitions.
The Serbian came close to adding a
spectacular second on the half-hour as Brown's clearance under pressure
from Borini fell to him on the edge of the area.
quickly adapted his body position to fire in an acrobatic scissors kick
that beat Costel Pantilimon, only to crash back off the crossbar, hit
the Romanian goalkeeper and bounce to safety.
Gerrard could have
twice added to the lead before the break; first when he fired into the
side-netting, and then when he shot tamely at Pantilimon from 15 yards,
with Borini the provider on both occasions.
loanee Borini conjured up an even more glaring miss as half-time
approached, hitting the side of the net from a narrow angle after
sprinting onto Can's sublime 40-yard through ball and rounding
Sunderland adapted well with 10 men, although Philippe
Coutinho, with a shot from the edge of the area, and substitute Mario
Balotelli, with a close-range effort from a narrow angle, both went
close for Liverpool.