Lazar Markovic scored an early winner for Liverpool as they saw off ten-man Sunderland.
The former Benfica man poked the ball past Costel Pantilimon in the ninth minute that capped off an excellent performance for the Serbian.
Liverpool dominated the first half but struggled to kill the game off after Liam Bridcutt was sent off following a second booking after half time.
Neither side created too many chances but Markovic and Adam Johnson both hit the woodwork with shots from distance.
Liverpool wanted an early penalty when Markovic went down as he raced through but Craig Pawson ruled that Wes Brown didn’t make contact.
Markovic was rewarded five minutes later as he bundled the ball through Pantilimon after battling past Patrick van Aanholt in the box.
Markovic almost added a stunning second with an audacious and improvised effort that crashed against the bar.
Bridcutt was then booked for clipping Steven Gerrard’s heels in the middle of the pitch.
Jordan Henderson hit the post after a smart chest and volley but was penalised for handball.
Fabio Borini almost added a second after racing in behind Brown, skipped past Pantilimon but could only find the side netting.
Bridcutt was then sent off after receiving a second yellow for bringing down Emre Can on the right hand side.
Sunderland appeared galvanised by the red card and Johnson almost grabbed a stunning equaliser but his long-range effort swerved against the bar.
It was a brief renaissance, however, and Liverpool comfortably held on for the win.