Defoe dents Liverpool title hopes as Sunderland earn draw
Striker scores two penalties as the Black Cats come from behind to leave Jurgen Klopp frustrated
Sunderland 2 Liverpool 2
Liverpool wasted the chance to close to within three points of leaders Chelsea on Monday afternoon after a late penalty from Jermain Defoe earned the Black Cats a share of the spoils.
The draw ends a run of four successive League victories for the Reds and leaves them trailing the Blues - who visit Tottenham on Wednesday - by five points and they are now just two points clear of Manchester City after their 2-1 victory at home to Burnley. And there could be more bad news for Liverpool by the end of today if Arsenal defeat Bournemouth and move to within a point of the Merseysiders.
The frustration felt by Liverpool was evident in the way manager Jurgen Klopp marched onto the Stadium of Light turf at the final whistle to make clear his opinion to referee Anthony Taylor. The official had given two penalties against the visitors (both converted by Defoe) but Klopp was convinced that Sunderland had been incorrectly awarded a free kick in the build-up to the second.
"You need a little bit of luck, but Sunderland worked hard too and maybe they deserved it," said the German manager.
Sunderland fans would agree with that generous assessment. Twice they fell behind to the Reds, first through Daniel Sturridge's header on 19 minutes and then Sadio Mane's second half effort, but on each occasion Sunderland drew level thanks to Defoe's spot-kick precision.
The first penalty, on 25 minutes, was awarded after Ragnar Klavan's trip on Didier Ndong, and the second came after Mane blocked a Seb Larsson free-kick with his hand. "Yes," replied Mane, when asked if he felt it should have been a penalty, adding: "The guy pushed me, I lost my control and the ball hit my hand... we have to look forward to the next game. We can accept this one point."
Sunderland's precious point leaves them still in the relegation zone but they are now just a point behind 17th placed Crystal Palace, who host Swansea City this evening. "We worked hard and knew it was going to be difficult against a top team who would press us," reflected Defoe. "The spirit today was brilliant and definitely the reaction the manager wanted after the Burnley game. To show that character, we're happy with the point."
Both keepers, Vito Mannone and Simon Mignolet of Liverpool, made excellent saves and a draw was a fair result, according to Black Cats boss David Moyes. "I thought we did quite well, matching Liverpool's energy for long periods of the game and we deserved a draw," said the Scot. "Towards the end of the season we are going to have to pick up a lot of results, today was a tough draw and we have to make sure we win at home – that's key."