Sunderland 2, Liverpool 2: Jurgen Klopp blames fixture pile-up after Black Cats offer bad omen for Reds' Premier League title push

 
Frank Dalleres
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Sunderland v Liverpool - Premier League
Liverpool's afternoon was made worse by an injury to Daniel Sturridge (Source: Getty)

Sunderland 2, Liverpool 2

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp bemoaned a hectic schedule after his Premier League title-chasing team dropped points at relegation-threatened Sunderland on Monday.

Two Jermain Defoe penalties – the latter six minutes from time – cancelled out Daniel Sturridge and Sadio Mane strikes and prevented Liverpool from closing the gap on leaders Chelsea to three points.

Read more: Klopp hits outs at Neville brothers after Karius criticism

“I know we can play better football, I’m not sure we could have played better today, because we played two days ago.

“It’s very difficult. Usually I speak about football but today I have no idea what my players were capable of or not.

“I have no answers. Two games in two days is very difficult but we did well for this probably. But I’m not sure.”

Klopp insisted Sunderland’s second penalty – for a Mane handball – should not have been given, while his afternoon was made worse by an injury to England striker Sturridge.

Sunderland manager David Moyes praised his team’s resilience, saying: “We’ve had a difficult Christmas period and this looked as difficult as any of the [games], and the players have done really well.”

Sturridge headed Liverpool in front after 19 minutes but Defoe equalised from the spot moments later when Reds defender Ragnar Klavan was penalised for a challenge on Black Cats midfielder Didier Ndong.

Mane poked the visitors ahead midway through the second half but the Senegal international’s last significant contribution before departing for the Africa Cup of Nations was to handle Sebastian Larsson’s free-kick.

Klopp, who maintained that the free-kick itself should never have been given, could see his team fall eight points behind Chelsea when the Blues and their 13-match winning run visit Tottenham on Wednesday.

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