Black Cats rally to take a point on the opening day of the season as debutant strikes with stunning volley to equalize following Uruguayan's opener and penalty miss
A promising start for Liverpool devolved into a unsatisfying home draw.
Liverpool took the early lead on a header by newcomer Luis Suarez but tired in the second half, allowing a brilliant volley from Sebastian Larsson to stand as the equalizer for visiting Sunderland in an entertaining 1-1 result on Saturday.
Both sides delved heavily into the transfer market over the summer, and the results were immediate.
In front of an expectant home crowd at Anfield on Saturday, Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish handed debuts to four new signings – Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam, Jose Enrique ex-Sunderland man Jordan Henderson. Sunderland's starting lineup featured new players Wes Brown and Larsson while James Vaughan came off the bench.
The new signings would make immediate impacts for their clubs, with Adam earning his first assist in a Liverpool shirt by setting up Suarez's early opener. Larsson scored the equalizer early in the second for Sunderland.
Liverpool had been much the stronger side in the first half, but tired badly and could not make its possession tell in the later stages. Sunderland even looked likely to take all three points, though that would have been harsh on the home side, which started so brightly.
Suarez burst past the defense early on, but as he went to round Simon Mignolet in the Sunderland goal, he was cynically brought down by Kieran Richardson, who was lucky to escape a sending off as referee Phil Dowd produced only a yellow. The striker recovered to take the spot kick, but blazed his effort well over the bar. His downturn in fortunes didn’t last long, however.
Barely five minutes after the missed penalty, Suarez had the ball in the net, cleverly heading in from a sweeping Adam free kick to put Liverpool on top.
And the Reds had the ball in the net for a second time in the 21st minute, with Andy Carroll taking Stewart Downing’s pass on his chest before tucking the ball into the net – only for a free kick to be given after Carroll was harshly adjudged to have pushed Anton Ferdinand in the back.
Liverpool was made to rue its missed first half chances, though, thanks to a moment of magic from Larsson. A throw in on the right was passed back to Sessegnon, whose cross to the back post was brilliantly volleyed in by Larsson, who found himself fully horizontal when striking the ball back across Reina and into the far corner.Though Liverpool continued to hold Sunderland back after Larsson's tally, it simply could not find the incisive play it needed to get an opening day win, and settled for a point.