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Benteke Strikes to Pile on the Misery for Sunderland

Published: 31st December 2015 08:56 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st December 2015 08:56 AM   |  A+A-

There was no wind or rain on -Wearside for Jurgen Klopp to -complain about and his Liverpool side duly delivered a victory over a Sunderland team who already look as though they will be heading to the Championship in May.

Klopp has raised plenty of -eyebrows in English football since he replaced Brendan Rodgers in October and it turns out even his excuses for bad results are -unconventional.

A fascination with the weather is regarded as a very British pastime, but it has become a specifically -German problem at Liverpool after Klopp claimed that the volatile -English climate is preventing him from playing the type of football he did at Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga.

Having complained about too much rain, Klopp -followed it this week by suggesting in an interview with a German newspaper that the wind in this country is also a -problem for his "philosophy". They sound like the sort of excuses -offered to irate commuters for a late running train, rather than a -credible reason for a poor performance, but Klopp did not need one here.

In surprisingly benign conditions, given the battering much of the North has taken from Storm Frank, Liverpool returned to -Merseyside with a comfortable win that lifted them up to seventh in the table.

Having found it difficult to find a way through Sunderland's packed defence, a goal from -Christian -Benteke right at the start of the second half enabled them to control the second period with ease.

Sunderland had conceded an -early goal in each of their three -previous defeats, a failing that had prompted the manager Sam -Allardyce to accuse his players of leaving their brains in the dressing room. There were no mishaps this time as the Black Cats snuffed out Liverpool's attacking threat with a surprising degree of ease.

Sunderland came out to frustrate them. It was unambitious and will eventually lead to barbs about -Allardyce's team being boring to watch, but it was exactly what the Black Cats needed after their recent collapses.

Maybe their new-found resolve surprised Liverpool, who struggled to get going. Even when the visitors got a chance to counter-attack, they constantly ran into red and white shirts, a defence that was well -marshalled by Lee Cattermole. The captain tends to make Sunderland look a better team, at least when he is fit enough to play, which has not been often enough for Allardyce. The Sunderland manager admitted that Cattermole had become an even better player in his eyes -because of how much the team had missed him during his latest injury absence.

Sunderland's supporters, who had turned up fearing the worst, grew more boisterous and the -players grew in confidence. They even managed to cause a few Liverpool hearts to flutter when they attacked.

Their best moment came when Cattermole won the ball just inside the Liverpool half and passed it -forward into the feet of -Jermain -Defoe. He spun away from Dejan Lovren and with no challenge as he advanced to the edge of the area, the striker's swerving shot was tipped over by Simon Mignolet.

That belatedly sparked Liverpool into life, Roberto Firmino making a fool of Yann M'Vila with his close ball -control, before smashing a right-footed shot against the post.

Their best chance, though, fell to Firmino ten minutes before half time when Nathaniel Clyne sent over a perfect cross for the -Brazilian to run on to, but he put his header straight at Vito Mannone.

If Allardyce was delighted with his team's start to the first half, he will have been dismayed by what happened at the start of the -second.He had only just sat down in the dugout when Liverpool passed quickly and decisively through Sunderland's midfield, which -allowed Clyne to find Adam Lallana, who prodded a pass through the- -defence for Benteke to steer beyond Mannone. After 45 minutes of frustration, it had taken Liverpool just 22 seconds to score after the break.

Sunderland rarely looked like finding an equaliser and with both Jack Rodwell and Sebastian Coates limping off with injuries, five -successive defeats mean the Black Cats head into the New Year fearing what is to come in May.

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