Divock Origi and James Milner struck late to earn Liverpool a fully-deserved 2-0 victory over Sunderland at Anfield this afternoon.
Belgian striker Origi came on as a first-half substitute for Philippe Coutinho, who was forced off with an apparent ankle injury, and his first Premier League goal of the season 15 minutes from time finally gave the Reds the lead in a game they dominated throughout.
Milner then stepped up to seal the points from the penalty spot in injury time after Didier Ndong had fouled Sadio Mane in the area.
The win means Jürgen Klopp’s side reclaim top spot in the table from Manchester City, with Chelsea playing Tottenham Hotspur in Saturday’s late kick-off.
The key points…
- Coutinho stretchered off in the 34th minute of a first half featuring few clear-cut chances.
- Liverpool up the intensity after the interval, with Georginio Wijnaldum, Roberto Firmino and Emre Can all going close.
- Origi finally breaks the deadlock with a low shot 15 minutes from time, before Milner adds a second with a late penalty.
- Ben Woodburn makes his first competitive senior Liverpool appearance as an injury-time substitute.
The team news…
Klopp named an unchanged starting line-up from last week’s 0-0 draw at Southampton. A tight calf ruled Daniel Sturridge out, allowing 17-year-old forward Woodburn to take his place on the bench.
The first half…
Liverpool began the game on the front foot and Firmino had their first attempt on goal in the sixth minute, when his low left-footed effort from 20 yards was gathered by Jordan Pickford.
Wijnaldum was next to test Pickford as he swivelled and shot after collecting Coutinho’s pass just inside the area, before Loris Karius was called upon to deny Steven Pienaar from close range at the other end.
Coutinho was carried off after a collision with Ndong shortly after the half-hour mark, with Origi replacing the Brazilian.
The Reds turned the screw as the half drew to a close, with Dejan Lovren first heading Jordan Henderson’s free-kick wide and then powering a long-range attempt wide.
The second half…
Attacking the Kop, Liverpool upped the tempo from the first whistle after the break and Wijnaldum volleyed Can’s lofted pass wide before Pickford saved Firmino’s shot at his near post.
A pattern of home domination was set, with Sunderland content to sit deep and frustrate the hosts.
Can shot just wide as the noise level inside Anfield continued to rise and a last-ditch block from Jason Denayer prevented Mane from breaking the deadlock in the 73rd minute.
But the Reds finally got the goal their dominance merited shortly after when Origi cut inside from the left and curled a low effort into Pickford’s far corner.
Can saw another shot deflected wide before Ndong hacked down Mane in the box, allowing Milner to send Pickford the wrong way from 12 yards.