Sunderland 1 Liverpool 3 match report: Luis Suarez’s Premier League return adds bite for snappy Reds

Daniel Sturridge assists both of the Uruguayan's goals

The Stadium of Light

There was a handshake with his manager, Brendan Rodgers, as both men smiled, then Luis Suarez headed down the tunnel. The contrast to 21 April could not have been greater. Then, the live pitch-side camera was chasing the Uruguayan as he walked off the field at Anfield. He had bitten an opponent. A storm brewed.

There is a long road to any sort of redemption, but scoring two goals yesterday in this win against a Sunderland team still trying to re-group after their recent managerial upheaval, was as much as he, or Rodgers, could possibly have hoped for on his first game back in the Premier League, after five months in which he flirted pretty strongly with an Anfield exit.

Those goals were a reminder of why the patience at Liverpool for the errant Suarez is so great.

In the build-up to his return in the Capital One Cup tie at Manchester United, Rodgers deliberated over how to exactly describe the character of the forward. “It’s robust,” he said. That feels about right as well.

In his time off during that 10-game ban, when his return varied between unlikely to implausible, Suarez seems to have been busy making vests.

That much became apparent when he scored his two goals, raising his team shirt on each occasion to reveal a different vest each time.

The first unveiling came on 36th minutes after the Uruguayan went down on one knee to convert a low cross from Daniel Sturridge. In celebration he lifted his shirt up to reveal a vest with a picture of his new-born son Benjamin along with the words “Welcome Benja Los Amo” (with love).

As for the goal, further mention here must go to the 60-yard crossfield ball from Steven Gerrard. Rodgers was struggling for words afterwards to  describe it. He went with “exceptional”, and the touch from Sturridge was not bad either.

But everything yesterday was about Suarez and for once he did not disappoint. It was such a contrast to the day he bit Branislav Ivanovic. The love has never really stopped from those Liverpool supporters who have backed him through two huge controversies, the striker having also been found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra back in 2011, for which he was given an eight-game suspension. At some point there has to come a form of payback.

Sturridge has flourished without the South American during his absence, few would argue with Rodgers assertion afterwards that he has as good a strike pairing as any in the country. Sturridge does not need Suarez, but together they were excellent.

Sturridge had already scored, albeit with his arm, by the time Suarez finally started writing headlines his baby son might one day want to read. The goal was hugely accidental and there were no complaints from Sunderland’s defenders when Gerrard’s left-wing corner was missed by Kolo Touré and as Sturridge attempted to head the ball past Keiren Westwood, he missed and the momentum of his body meant his bicep carried the ball into the home goal.

Two-goals down, Sunderland, under the guidance of caretaker manager Kevin Ball, and still reeling from the 175 days of Paolo Di Canio’s reign of fear, could have exited the game at that point. To their credit they did not. Ball revealed he had taken the players for a walk along the seafront on the morning of the game so they could “see the people they represent”.

Something revived a group of players who were so sick of life a week beforehand that they called for the manager they resented to be sacked. At least they fought, and seven minutes into the second half fashioned a foothold into the game when Ki Sung-yueng’s shot from 30 yards was spilled by Simon Mignolet into the path of Emanuele Giaccherini. The Italian forward, who had also fallen out with Di Canio, crashed his shot into the Liverpool net. Mignolet, it is fair to say, has had better afternoons on his old ground as he  parried a shot from Craig Gardner and stood up to a drive from Jozy Altidore.

Not until the 89th minute would Rodgers be able to feel comfortable that a fourth victory to carry his team into second place in the Premier League table had been secured.

Suarez this time was creator and finisher. First he picked out Sturridge to his left with a raking pass. The England forward went past Gardner and unselfishly pulled the ball back to his returning team-mate, who fired a shot into the bottom corner of Westwood’s goal. This time it was a black vest, minus the picture, that was revealed to profess more love for his son. His two-goal return was, however, a far more emphatic statement that he was back in the Premier League.

Sunderland were brave, as their stand-in manager concurred afterwards. “We gave it a real good go,” Ball said. “I asked the lads to have a go and each one of them did. We scored and created chances and took it to the death.

“If the board want me to take it forward then great. If not, then that is their prerogative.

“At half-time we were two down but we saw a good reaction. The lads had a real good go. Three-one flatters Liverpool.”

It was a day for Liverpool to stand their ground, as much as it was for Suarez to remind everyone of his talent. They did just that.

“To perform in parts like we did was very pleasing,” said Rodgers. “Kevin had a reaction from his team. You could see the intensity and focus they had.

“We had to be alert and we defended very well. Then we were very good on the counter-attack.”

Which is exactly where the returning Suarez excelled.

Suggested Topics
News
people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?