Gerrard takes direct action to save Red faces

Liverpool 2 Sunderland 2

When it comes to direct action, nobody does it like Steven Gerrard. In the scheme of his career, scoring an equaliser against Sunderland, a club that last won at Anfield when he was a toddler, would not count very high. Nevertheless, had he not headed home Fernando Torres' cross, the demonstrations against the club's American owners – billed as a day of direct action – would have resembled the storming of the Winter Palace.

Just before his intervention, Liverpool had looked as rudderless on the pitch as they are financially stricken off it. After falling behind to a goal that belonged to the old "You are the Ref" cartoon strip, Sunderland had so completely seized control of the game that it seemed the only question was their margin of victory.

Thereafter, Liverpool pressed and battered Sunderland ever deeper into their own area until the breath was all but squeezed from their lungs. The occupation of the stands by several thousand supporters after the final whistle seemed, after all this drama, like something of an afterthought.

Roy Hodgson, who had stood soaked on Wednesday night as Northampton knocked Liverpool out of the League Cup, described what had gone before Gerrard's goal as a "cold shower".

Darren Bent cancelled out Dirk Kuyt's ludicrous effort with a penalty after Christian Poulsen had thrown up his hands to a cross from Ahmed Al-Muhammadi and the same player met Nedem Onuoha's beautifully-delivered cross to add a second after 48 minutes.

Anfield looked shocked but not entirely surprised and minute by minute, until Gerrard's equaliser, confidence seeped away. Cries of "Hodgson, get on your feet," rang around the stadium as if the sight of their manager gesticulating would have sparked a revival.

His opposite number, Steve Bruce, reflected that not since he had come here as a player with Manchester United had he been involved with a side that enjoyed such easy possession at Anfield. It was a telling comment.

Now to Liverpool's opener. This time last year Bent had scored a winner at the Stadium of Light that deflected off a beach ball. This, in its way, was just as debatable.

Sunderland had been awarded a free-kick on the centre circle. Michael Turner seemed to roll it back towards his goalkeeper, obviously with the intention that Simon Mignolet would take it. However, the ball was dead, the kick had been "taken" and Torres seized on his opportunity. Mignolet stopped on the edge of his own area and, suddenly panicked. Torres passed smoothly to Kuyt and Liverpool were one up.

"Everybody in the ground bar none knew Michael Turner had not taken the free-kick. He was standing 35 yards from where it was awarded," said Bruce, trying manfully to avoid being fined for criticising the referee, Stuart Attwell. "This is the second time it has happened to me. The first was at Arsenal in the FA Cup years ago when a throw-in back to our goalkeeper after a stoppage went to Marc Overmars, he ran down the wing and crossed it for a goal. That match was replayed and the proceeds were given to charity."

The referee was technically correct, but his decision was hardly in the spirit of the game.

Attendance: 43,626

Referee: Stuart Attwell

Man of the match: Gerrard

Match rating: 8/10

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat