Reuters: Christian Benteke condemned struggling Sunderland to a 1-0 defeat and sent Liverpool level on points with sixth-placed Manchester United in the last Premier League game of the year on Wednesday.
The Belgium striker broke through 22 seconds after the restart to bag his sixth goal of the campaign, the quickest second-half goal in the Premier League this season.
Nathaniel Clyne’s long pass was deflected on by Adam Lallana to the lurking Benteke, who tucked it away from inside the area with Sunderland’s defence caught napping.
Liverpool, who beat high-flying Leicester City 1-0 on Saturday with another second-half goal from Benteke, have 30 points from 19 games but Juergen Klopp’s side are behind Manchester United on goal difference.
Sunderland remained second from bottom on 12 points after five straight defeats, seven points adrift of safety.
“Three points, really hard work,” was Klopp’s immediate verdict. “It’s not the best we can do, we know this, but we had to fight.
“Everyone wants to end the year positively, we can and Sunderland can’t but we take those points, go home, sleep two times and on to the next game,” he told the BBC.
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce cursed Sunderland’s bad luck.