Defoe penalty denies Liverpool victory
Jermain Defoe scored two penalties as third-bottom Sunderland prevented Liverpool from significantly trimming Chelsea’s lead at the Premier League summit in a 2-2 draw yesterday.
Liverpool twice went ahead, through Daniel Sturridge and Sadio Mane, but Defoe’s two spot-kicks mean Chelsea will move eight points clear if they win at Tottenham Hotspur tomorrow.
“I am not able to explain it because I don’t know exactly what I saw,” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. “My team were fighting, but I wasn’t sure if they could do it.”
Manchester City lost ground after losing 1-0 at Liverpool on New Year’s Eve, but they bounced back by winning 2-1 at home to Burnley despite the first-half dismissal of Fernandinho.
Liverpool, who were denied a fifth successive league win, were left five points adrift of Chelsea in second place, with City two points back in third place.
Klopp made just one change to his starting XI, Sturridge replacing the injured Jordan Henderson, and the England striker gave his side a 19th-minute lead at the Stadium of Light.
Dejan Lovren miscued his volley from a corner, but Sturridge reacted sharply to swivel and redirect the ball past Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone with his head.
Defoe equalised six minutes later, netting his 10th league goal of the season from the penalty spot after Didier N’Dong was fouled by Ragnar Klavan.
Mane restored Liverpool’s lead in the 72nd minute, tapping in from a corner, but then conceded a penalty for a needless handball, allowing Defoe to equalise for the second time with six minutes to play.
“There was no foul before the free-kick for the second penalty,” Klopp added. “You need a little bit of luck, but Sunderland worked hard too and maybe they deserved it.”
Compounding Liverpool’s disappointment, Sturridge limped off late on and had to be helped to the tunnel at the full-time whistle.