Jordan Henderson watched Lazar Markovic steal the show at the Stadium of Light with a match-winning display against Sunderland before lauding the Serbian's raw talent and vast potential.

Markovic was everywhere from the first whistle - and he could have had a penalty after a matter of minutes when he was sent tumbling to the ground, only to see appeals from his teammates waved away by the referee. 

Undeterred, the winger continued to drive at the Black Cats' defence, weaving between their ranks and surging into space, and after nine minutes of play his sheer perseverance brought about the breakthrough. 

Storming through a cluster of red and white shirts, the 20-year-old prodded the ball beyond the onrushing Costel Pantilimon to net what would prove to be the decisive goal of the game. 

The former Benfica man then produced a piece of sublime skill as he leapt to connect mid-air with a bouncing ball and send a stunning, dipping shot shuddering onto Pantilimon's crossbar. 

"He's a fantastic player," Henderson told BT Sport in the tunnel following the final whistle. "He's got great potential.

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"He wants to learn all the time and he puts in hard work on the training field. I think you saw that today - the quality he has got going forward. 

"Overall, it was very pleasing. We knew coming here would be difficult. They made it very difficult for us. In the first half, I thought we controlled the game really well. And then we dug in towards the end and tried to fight for the result. Thankfully we got it." 

Henderson captained Liverpool against his boyhood club after Steven Gerrard was withdrawn at the interval as a precaution - and the midfielder was one of three Reds on the day who returned to an old haunt in the north east. 

Fabio Borini, who spent last season on loan at the Black Cats, featured for 67 minutes here before making way for Mario Balotelli, while Simon Mignolet ensured the Reds kept a clean sheet as he returned to Wearside. 

"We have to keep building on what we have got at the moment," said the Belgian stopper. "We picked up three points today at a tough ground to come to.

"It was windy today and we had to get through it, but to keep a clean sheet in the manner we did, in difficult conditions, was important. We worked really well together, we fought for the three points and we got them in the end." 

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Photo: Coutinho posts dressing room joy