IT was an up and down game at the Stadium of Light as Jermain Defoe twice converted from the penalty spot to bring Sunderland back from the dead against Liverpool.
Daniel Sturridge had first given Jurgen Klopp’s Reds the lead, only for Sadio Mane to do the same late on.
But that man Defoe – alongside some Vito Mannone heroics – rescued David Moyes’ men.Here are the five things we learnt from Sunderland’s thrilling 2-2 draw with Liverpool.
1. DEADLY DAN
IT’S been a while since Sturridge last started for Liverpool, but he took his chance with great aplomb.
After threatening early and often, only denied by some Vito Mannone heroics, Sturridge turned in a scuffed Dejan Lovren effort to instinctively flick a looping header over the keeper and into the back of the net.
It was, somewhat incredibly, onyl the England man’s second Premier League goal of the season.
And with Sadio Mane set to jet off to Gabon for the African Cup of Nations, Sturridge may have convinced Jurgen Klopp to give him the start in Liverpool’s fluid front four more frequently.
Whatever happens for Studge moving forward, it’s fair to say, he’s still a natural finisher and always a threat to opposition defences.
However, after limping off in the 80th minute, both Sturridge and Liverpool will need to hold their breath…
2. MISS MATIP
ALL season one thing has been apparent: Liverpool’s defence looks shaky without Joel Matip.
With the centre-back pairings continually rotated, as Klopp works to figure out his best pairing, there is one ever-present – when fit – and that’s Matip.
The Cameroonian ace was missing this game through injury and his replacement – Ragnar Klavan – clumsily hacked Didier Ndong to the ground leading to the Black Cats’ equalising penalty.
Kop boss Klopp will be thrilled Matip has opted out of the African Cup of Nations, which starts this month.
3. DEFOE LION IN WAIT?
IN scoring against Liverpool, Defoe became only the fourth player in Premier League history to score ten or more goals in ten or more seasons.
After converting a cool spot-kick, the England man joined Alan Shearer, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard in notching the milestone.
With the Sunderland man thriving in an otherwise struggling side, it’s hard to believe he hasn’t played for England since May 2013.
Defoe continues to prove he is one of the best forwards in the country and if he does keep scoring, surely Gareth Southgate can’t overlook him for too much longer.
4. LEADERLESS LIVERPOOL
IT really was a tale of the players NOT on the pitch for Liverpool at times, this time with Klopp and Co sorely missing former Sunderland man Jordan Henderson.
Emre Can put in a sub-par display in the centre of the park for the Reds as the absence of the enterprising, energetic influence of skipper Henderson was all too evident at times.
His ability to chase down in defence and charge forward in attack is an asset to any side.
With the midfielders focusing mostly on their defensive role at times, it would have perhaps been more prudent of Klopp to play Lucas Leiva, let him sit back at all times and allow his attack-minded stars to really go to work.
5. VITO’S THE MANN
HE might have shipped two goals at home, but Vito Mannone was without a shadow of a doubt the best player on the park at the Stadium of Light.
The stopper – only starting thanks to Jordan Pickford’s injury – was exceptional at keeping Liverpool at bay for 90 minutes.
The Reds unleashed an incredible 21 shots, with 15 of those on target, but only mustered two goals thanks to Mannone.
From the first minute, to the fifth minute of added time, the Italian ace was as close to a brick wall as you can get, and Liverpool will perhaps be cursing their luck at his inclusion …