Welcome to HACKWATCH – RTG’s look at what the Sunday papers are saying about Sunderland’s most recent performance
SUNDAY MIRROR (Alan Nixon)
“Raf Treatment for Stevie”
Gerrard had looked a class above Sunderland early on and almost sneaked in an outrageous bending 30-yarder that hit the post with Kelvin Davis beaten.
Fouls were given away out of desperation by Sunderland rather than malice as a makeshift back line and over-run midfield tried and failed to cope.
The right back had a particularly severe grilling. Zenden was too clever for him
Welsh was full of running and gave Steve Finnan a hard time when he had the chance.
Any hope of an upset went when Welsh was scandalously sent off to the amazement of McCarthy. Sunderland will appeal and must surely get the red card rescinded.
THE OBSERVER (Paul Wilson)
“Alonso strike fails to stop fans dreaming of Owen return”
Sunderland must have been delighted to get off so lightly here. They hardly deserved to still be in the game in the second half, let alone going for an equaliser in stoppage time.
Sunderland have the sort of defence that allowed Fernando Morientes a free header from a corner when the game was less than three minutes old.
Sunderland were forced to abandon their plan of containment and come forward, and though Andy Welsh hit a cross that landed on Jose Reina’s bar
Welsh’s challenge on Luis Garcia was crude and unnecessary, but he led with his shoulder rather than his studs and scarcely seemed deserving of a straight red.
SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (James Mossop)
“Feckless Liverpool Miss Sharp Touches of Owen”
Benitez cannot have felt comfortable watching Morientes, Cisse and Baros getting nowhere against a tightly-closed Sunderland defence.
Although McCarthy is striving to mould a team of average individuals into an effective unit, it appears as though they will be facing a season of struggle.
Sunderland chased with spirit and rose admirably to a task that was doubled when Xabi Alonso hammered his 25-yard free-kick past goalkeeper Kelvin Davies
Sunderland were playing so tenaciously as half-time approached that Benitez would need to rattle some of his players in the interval.
Any hope Sunderland had went with the 73rd minute dismissal of Welsh, who stupidly raised his hands to push over Luis Garcia when the threat was minimal.
SUNDAY TIMES (Rob Hughes)
“Alonso sinks stubborn Sunderland”
The flame of Sunderland’s defiance, their sheer, organised obduracy, was never truly doused by Liverpool at Anfield yesterday.
Sunderland, for all that they palpably lacked the quality of the European champions, were never wanting for courage.
Barry Knight did not see Welsh raise his forearm to Garcia in the 73rd minute — but his assistant, standing six yards away, could hardly miss it. It was deliberate use of the elbow but it did not connect; the Spaniard had chosen to go to ground on the initial body contact, hip to hip, and it was this that drew the elbow raised by the Sunderland player.
The home side made hard work of their victory over Sunderland at Anfield.
Liverpool bossed the game and probed away for an opening.
The Black Cats had their appeals for a Sissoko handball waved away following a corner but they gradually began to grow in confidence.
The Reds could not kill the game off and, while Sunderland were not creating any chances, the 1-0 scoreline always gave them an opportunity of stealing a point.
The Reds were made to battle all the way for this victory……they found it far from easy against a Sunderland who, particularly in the first half, caused them plenty of problems.
Any thoughts that a rout would follow were soon dispelled by Sunderland, who played with plenty of spirit and caused the Reds no end of problems.
Sunderland’s task was made considerably harder when they were reduced to ten men for the last 15 minutes after Welsh was sent off for pushing Garcia. But their ten men continued to worry Liverpool until the final whistle. They wont go down if they can play like this every week.