Luis Suarez’s Two Goals Help Liverpool Down Sunderland, Finish Festive Period on Winning Note


Glen Johnson, Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez and Lucas LeivaLuis Suarez fired his second brace in four days, as Liverpool beat Sunderland 3-0 at Anfield.

On a day when the club signed another striker in Daniel Sturridge, top scorer Suarez took his tally for the season to 18 — one more than his total for 2011-12.

He also assisted the opener for Raheem Sterling, as the Reds made it three wins from four festive fixtures and climbed to eighth in the standings.

Ineligible to play after signing a contract earlier in the day, Sturridge will have liked what he saw from the directors’ box. Just as they did at QPR three days ago, the Reds established a firm lead inside the opening 45 minutes — and again Suarez was central.

The first might have come through Stewart Downing in the 12th minute when both Suarez and Steven Gerrard stood aside to allow him a dead ball effort. The England man didn’t disappoint but was denied by a scampering save from Simon Mignolet.

Instead it was Sterling who secured the opener after 18 minutes, the second goal of his first full season in the Liverpool team. His lob over the visiting goalkeeper followed fine work from Suarez, who in one movement twisted his body and launched a ball over the top of the Sunderland defense.

Martin O’Neill‘s side had several chances to breach the Kop net in the first period, but James McLean was twice wasteful with just Pepe Reina to beat. The Liverpool goalkeeper had to work harder to prevent Matt Kilgallon scoring with a half-volley from close range, but he was up to the task with a superb reflex save.

Instead it was Liverpool who went in at the break 2-0 ahead, and this time it was all about Suarez. The Uruguay forward stayed on his feet after 26 minutes despite a foul from Carlos Cuellar and completed the task with a low finish, which Mignolet handled but could not halt.

Downing almost made it three at the far post after a superb cross from Jordan Henderson, but that would have been greedy after a first half in which Sunderland carried a definite threat.

The second half could have started with another Sterling goal assisted by Suarez, but this time the 18-year-old’s finish was wayward.

Not to worry. In the 52nd minute, the game was over as a contest when Gerrard dispatched a 60-yard pass from his own half, which Suarez controlled before slotting past Mignolet from close range. Gerrard now has eight league assists this season — one more than Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata at the top of that particular table.

Brendan Rodgers elected to swap Sterling with Joe Allen, while Suso also got 25 minutes by replacing the excellent Henderson.

Any changes did not stifle Liverpool’s momentum, and it was nearly 4-0 when a Gerrard volley ricocheted off Glen Johnson and produced an excellent save from Mignolet.

The Belgian goalkeeper was having a decent game despite the scoreline and again came to the rescue after Suarez controlled brilliantly and poked towards the bottom corner.

Another substitution followed, and this one had significance for those who take an interest in club records, Jamie Carragher replacing Martin Skrtel to go second in Liverpool’s all-time league appearances table. journalists’ man of the match: Luis Suarez.

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