Christian Benteke struck the winner for the second time in five days as Liverpool moved to within five points of the Champions League
places with a 1-0 win at Sunderland.
The £32.5million man looks to be benefiting from his heart-to-heart with manager Jurgen Klopp as his clinical finish within 22 seconds of the start of the second half was enough to beat a doomed-looking Black Cats side.
Sam Allardyce’s men have now lost five times on the spin and face an uphill battle to survive as they are seven points adrift of 17th-placed Swansea.
The home side battled hard for the first 45 minutes and were well in a turgid game, but were undone immediately after the break as Adam Lallana’s flick allowed Benteke to fire in the only goal of the game.
Sunderland will now head into a make or break league period in January as they face three of the current bottom five. If they can pick up a solid haul of points from encounters with Aston Villa, Swansea and Bournemouth they could drag themselves out of the mire, but if it doesn’t go to plan they could be all-but out of the race for safety come February.
Liverpool still have much improvement to make if they are to have realistic ambitions of securing a top four berth, but Klopp will be delighted they appear to be out of their mini dip and they can now look forward to the new year with real optimism.