Black Cats rally to take a point on the opening day of the season as debutant strikes with stunning volley to equalise following Uruguayan's opener and penalty missLiverpool and Sunderland shared the spoils after Luis Suarez opened the scoring in the first half, despite missing a penalty, and Sebastian Larsson brilliantly brought the Black Cats level in the second half with a flying volley.
The hosts had been much the stronger side in the first half, but tired badly and could not make their possession tell in the later stages, and Sunderland even looked likely to take all three points, though that would have been harsh on the hosts who started so brightly.
The new season got off to a bang at Anfield, as Suarez, fresh from his break after a successful Copa America campaign with Uruguay broke clear of the Sunderland defence in the opening six minutes.
The 24-year-old burst past the visiting defence, 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 Charlie Adam free-kick to put Liverpool on top.
The Reds then 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 home – only for a free-kick to be given after Carroll was harshly adjudged to have pushed Anton Ferdinand in the back.
Charlie Adam certainly seemed to be settling in well on his Liverpool debut, spraying passes well and striking a vicious shot from 25 yards that Mignolet did well to hold onto. His attacking impetus was driving Liverpool on well in the first half, and Sunderland were doing all they could just to stay in touching distance with the Reds.
Lee Cattermole was, perhaps predictably, booked early on for the Black Cats – with this particular caution coming after only 26 minutes for a poorly timed and ultimately needless challenge on Suarez.
Sky high | Suarez wastes an early penalty for Liverpool in draw with Sunderland
On the half hour mark Liverpool again came close to doubling their lead, this time through another debutant, Downing. The left-winger had swapped wings with Sunderland old-boy Jordan Henderson, and picked up the ball just inside his own half before embarking on a winding run and unleashing a searing drive which flashed off the top of the crossbar.
The visitors' only real opening of the first half came in the last five minutes, as Liverpool keeper Jose Reina tried to punch Sebastian Larsson’s free-kick but missed, and Stephane Sessegnon could not get on the end of it.
Cattermole was not the only one to end up in the book at half time though, with Jamie Carragher joining him for a challenge that lacked malice, but looked terrible on Asamoah Gyan.
The second half kicked into life after just five minutes, with Asamoah Gyan forcing a header on target, though it was straight at Reina. This attack spurred Liverpool into life, however, as Carroll came close three times in a matter of minutes, and would have scored but for a timely intervention from Wes Brown.
Then Larsson produced a moment of magic to equal the scores. A throw-in on the right was passed back to Ahmed Elmohamady, whose cross to the back post was brilliantly volleyed in by the Swede, who was fully horizontal when striking the ball back across Reina and into the far corner.
The goal brought the first change of the match from Kenny Dalglish, who replaced the ineffectual Henderson for the more experienced Dirk Kuyt, who was surprisingly left on the bench having started every game under Dalglish until this match.
The change did not have the desired effect though, and the Anfield club lacked any real fluidity or rhythm with Sunderland in the ascendency.
Dalglish then brought on another central midfielder in the 75th minute with Raul Meireles replacing Suarez, who had been lively in the first half, and quiet in the second.
In truth, however, no side really came close to a winner in the final 20 minutes. While Liverpool were doing the bulk of any attacking, they were not looking incisive, and tired badly towards the end.
Sunderland could also claim that they were having their fair share of possession and could have done better with a counter attack in injury time, but Cattermole wasted the opportunity and both sides had to settle for a point.