Bent: Liverpool should have cleared beach ball

Darren Bent does not care how the ball ends up in the back of the net, as long as he keeps scoring...

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The 10million Sunderland striker took his tally for the club since his summer move from Tottenham courtesy of a freak goal which resulted from a deflection off a beach ball against Liverpool.

>> More reaction and analysis in Monday's Sunderland Echo

However, like any top-class marksman, he will not lose any sleep over how the ball ultimately found its destination.

He said: "Little things are going in my favour - hitting one off the top of a balloon and it goes in the corner - but I will take it.

"As a frontman, you will always take what you are given and Saturday was no exception.

"But at the same time, the team played fantastically and to be fair from a neutral point of view, no-one would say it was unjustified."

Reds boss Rafael Benitez refused to dwell on the beach ball incident, but may wonder why one of his players did not take the opportunity to get rid of it before it could do any damage.

Bent said: "The ball was sitting in the middle of their own six-yard box and if they are not going to move it, then there's nothing we can do about it at the end of the day."

The goal was the main talking point in an incident-packed game which saw Liverpool's title credentials take a further dent - they have now lost four of their nine Barclays Premier League games this season - and Sunderland further enhance their blossoming reputation.

Indeed, Bent might have claimed a hat-trick on a day when Liverpool's makeshift defence - Jamie Carragher, Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel played in a back three - simply could not contain he and strike-partner Kenwyne Jones.

He glanced a first-half header wide and was denied first by Pepe Reina and then a post after the break as the Black Cats threatened to claim their first win over one of the big four clubs since their return to the Premier League even more comfortably.