Player ratings - Sunderland 0 Liverpool 1

Adam Johnson in action for Sunderland against Liverpool.
Adam Johnson in action for Sunderland against Liverpool.

SUNDERLAND reporter Chris Young gives his verdict after the Black Cats limped to a 1-0 defeat against Liverpool.

Pantilimon 6 - Beaten by a clever finish from Markovic for the goal and had to be lively during a first half when Liverpool could easily have netted three or four.

Vergini 4 - Surprise that he was included after struggling with fatigue and injury over Christmas, and endured a miserable first half with both his defending and passing.

O’Shea 5 - Like Brown, caught out for Liverpool’s goal and didn’t look his usual commanding self.

Brown 5 - Very fortunate not to concede a penalty within the opening three minutes, but reprieve was only temporary after being beaten to the ball by Gerrard for the Liverpool goal moments later.

Van Aanholt 5 - Markovic was far more alert than him for Liverpool’s goal and without the adrenaline surge which he clearly had against Leeds six days earlier, looked rusty from two months on the sidelines.

Bridcutt 4 - Made minimal contact with Can for his second booking, but was daft to be even in the vicinity of the Liverpool man who was going nowhere. Cattermole was a miss.

Larsson 6 - As bad as the bulk of those around him in the first half, but produced a big effort in covering the ground after Sunderland were reduced to 10 men.

Gomez 4 - Was leggy, slow and sloppy. Looks in need of a rest.

Giaccherini 6 - Persistent in trying to create in the second half after an opening 45 minutes where he spent far too much time tracking back Markovic. (Buckley 6 - At least delivered a cross into the Liverpool area and injected some pace into the attack).

JOHNSON 7 - The only Sunderland player on the pitch who looked capable of making something happen and unfortunate not to grab an equaliser with a vicious shot which had Mignolet stranded. (Mandron 6 - Had a half chance with a header from Buckley’s cross.)

Wickham 4 - Unable to offer Sunderland any attacking platform. His best performances this season have come out-of-position on the left. (Graham 6 - Produced more in 13 minutes than the man he replaced, in his first league outing for Sunderland since May 2013).

LIVERPOOL: Mignolet 6, Can 8, Skrtel 7, Sakho 6, Henderson 8, Moreno 7, Lucas 6, Gerrard 8 (Lovren 6), Markovic 8, Coutinho 7, Borini 7 (Balotelli 6).