(Emanuele Giaccherini 52)
(Daniel Sturridge 28, Luis Suarez 36, 89)
Luis Suarez is back. He's in the mood. He's on the scoresheet and Liverpool are on the march up the Premier League table.
If the Reds are not quite sitting pretty at the summit, they're looking decidedly attractive in second place with their chief mischief maker leaving Sunderland in a muddle at the Stadium of Light.
Brendan Rodgers' men won 3-1 - thanks to a Suarez double - and his return has his teammates pondering a sustained chase for Champions League qualification.
His brace owed more to Liverpool's team ethic than to individual brilliance, which might just be the point.
At the risk of turning Liverpool into Jerry Maguire, Suarez completes his club.
For all his misdemeanours, the volatile forward has been missed by both the Reds and the Premier League itself.
His performance against Sunderland will not be jostling for space on a DVD highlights package, but Liverpool were obviously lifted by his presence.
His first goal in the 36th minute started with Steven Gerrard's long, driven pass to the right flank, hitting Sturridge perfectly.
The England striker squared to his partner to confirm the victory and make a mockery of the naive notion that the two men can't play together.
Suarez's gift was a confirmation. The Reds are a team when their enfant terrible is unshackled and free to terrorise. Sunderland will rue the dreadful defending. He is not a man to lose in the penalty box.
Suarez lifted his jersey to reveal a Tshirt for his new baby son. His goal was for Liverpool. The celebrations were his own.
Despite the return of the EPL's favourite pantomime bogeyman, however, it was the team that had earlier fired their villain that almost took the lead.
Initially motivated by Paolo Di Canio's departure, Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson's curled free-kick in the 25th minute dipped over the wall and crashed against the crossbar.
But the game's most controversial moment came just before the half hour when Liverpool went ahead.
Sturridge made it lucky seven with a strong hand - his own.
The Liverpool striker scored his seventh of a productive season by diverting a corner into the net with his elbow.
In real time, he appeared to have reacted quickest, displaying impressive agility to get his head to the ball.
Replays revealed he wasn't even close. Both Jozy Altidore and the officials blundered. Altidore failed to pick up Sturridge,
referee Howard Webb was unsighted and his assistant failed to spot the elbow grease required to score.
Sunderland failed to spot Suarez for the second and the game appeared over before half-time.
And then, Liverpool decided to take a second-half snooze.
Emanuele Giaccherini halved the deficit in the 52nd minute, when he tapped in the rebound after Simon Mignolet spilled Ki Sung Yueng's speculative drive.
But Suarez wrapped up the three points in the 89th minute, sweeping home after a swift Liverpool counter-attack to prove his point.
He scored twice. His first touch at the Stadium of Light was a nutmeg. He had fooled with his first touch.
The Anfield faithful will now hope that he continues to fool opponents. He can no longer make a fool of himself.
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