Sunderland 1 Liverpool 0: Bendtner’s the pinball wizard

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Sunderland fought their way to a deserved victory over Carling Cup winners Liverpool this afternoon in a game which, in contrast to last week’s derby, rarely raised itself above the mundane.

It was a game of little chances in a first half dominated by defences, Liverpool’s best effort being a Charlie Adam free-kick which Simon Mignolet tipped over the bar.

Sunderland dominated the game up to the break but rarely troubled Pepe Reina in the Liverpool goal.

The moment that mattered though came in the 56th minute when Fraizer Campbell created space for himself outside the box and drove a shot which hit the post, struck Reina, bounced back on to the post and then out for Nicklas Bendtner to fire home from close range.

Liverpool huffed and puffed afterwards looking for ways to get back into the game, but the whole Sunderland side worked hard to preserve the lead and Simon Mignolet was rarely called into action –– as Kenny Dalglish’s men slipped to a third successive Premier League defeat for the first time in nine years.

* Full report and pictures in tonight’s 40-page Football Echo