REFEREE Kevin Friend failed to live up to his name for Sunderland as Liverpool grabbed all three points at the Stadium of Light.
The home side looked comfortable until the official went back on his original - correct - decision to award a free kick against John Mensah for his challenge on Jay Spearing.
Contact was outside the box, but the assistant refereen on the East Stand side ruled the foul was in the box and Dirk Kuyt despatched the resulting spot kick to give Liverpool a 33rd-minute lead.
Luis Suarez added a second with 13 minutes remaining, capitalising on poor defending to blast home from a narrow angle. Simon Mignolet should have done better at his near post, but did pull off good saves from Kuyt, Suarez and Spearing to keep the scoreline respectable in front of a sell-out 47,207 crowd.
It’s five defeats in seven games now for Sunderland, who had Mensah sent off nine minutes from time for pulling down Suarez.
That means an automatic ban for the Ghana defender and the Black Cats’ resources will be further stretched after first-half injuries to Sulley Muntari and Kieran Richardson.