Sunderland v Liverpool

Sunderland 1 Liverpool 0

Nicklas Bendtner scored for the second successive game to help Sunderland to a fine home win over Liverpool.

The big Dane swooped to fire a dramatic winner 11 minutes into the second half after Fraizer Campbell's shot came back off the post.

The Black Cats' cause was aided by another fine defensive performance against a Liverpool outfit who were restricted to only a handful of shots on target.

Bendtner, who left the action on a stretcher late on, showed a striker's instinct to snaffle his goal as he followed in on Campbell's shot with the visiting defence hesitating.

And Martin O'Neill's side were good value for their win, which takes their tally of league points gained since Christmas to 19.

Bendtner and the returning Fraizer Campbell looked threatening up front for a Sunderland outfit without leading goalscorer Stephane Sessegnon due to suspension.

Captain Lee Cattermole - serving a four-match ban - and the injured Kieran Richardson also missed out, but a trio of forced changes didn't seem to knock O'Neill's men out of their stride.

Sunderland created the early chances, with John O'Shea flicking Seb Larsson's free-kick over the top nine minutes in.

Another Larsson set piece caused more problems soon afterwards, as Fraizer Campbell headed his corner back across goal for Bendtner to test Pepe Reina with a low shot.

But the early flurry passed as the game settled into a pattern of attack and counter-attack with chances few and far between.

Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt created his side's first chance of the game just after the half-hour when he met a cross from the right with a flicked header which was easily claimed by Simon Mignolet.

And the visitors finished the first half well as Charlie Adam saw an inswinging free-kick tipped over, while Phil Bardsley was alert to hack away Kuyt's header from inside the six-yard box.

Sunderland made a bright start to the second half and were almost ahead five minutes after the restart.

James McClean swung in a dangerous cross from the left, Martin Skrtel sliced horribly towards goal under pressure from Campbell and was relieved to see his wayward clearance fly straight at Reina, who gathered.

Jack Colback and McClean both fired off target as Sunderland got the bit between their teeth before surging in front on 56 minutes.

Campbell turned smartly on the edge of the box and stole a yard on Skrtel before firing in a shot which struck the post, hit the diving Reina on the head and struck the upright again before bobbling loose.

The Stadium of Light held its collective breath as the onrushing Bendtner bore down on goal, and the Dane, completely unmarked, smashed the ball high into the net to give his side the lead.

Kenny Dalglish threw on Steven Gerrard and Andy Carroll with 21 minutes to go in an attempt to up the ante, and Gerrard soon tested Mignolet with a powerful low drive which was easily dealt with by the Belgian.

Goalscorer Bendtner's afternoon ended on a sour note as he unfortunately exited the action on a stretcher with six minutes remaining after being brought down by Skrtel.

Liverpool pressed late on and Gerrard had a shot brilliantly charged down by substitute David Vaughan.

But Sunderland held out fairly comfortably to secure their sixth home win of the season - and another clean sheet to boot.