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James saves Reds from embarrassing defeat

England recruit David James saved Liverpool from an embarrassing defeat today. The Anfield keeper will link up with Glenn Hoddle's World Cup squad next week for the game in Moldova. And he marked his final match before that qualifier with a fine show against Sunderland. James twice denied Republic of Ireland striker Niall Quinn as last season's first division champions threatened to secure a shock victory.
 
Sunderland however, deserved a point and manager Peter Reid, the former Everton star, will no doubt take an immense amount of personal satisfaction from this performance. Skipper Kevin Ball gave a towering performance at the heart of their defence and the team's all round commitment had to be admired. Liverpool were limited to a number of half-chances, although John Barnes saw a header hit the bar in the second half. It was a day of frustration for the Kop after the 2-0 defeat of Arsenal on Monday. But Sunderland, to their credit, came to make a game of it and could so nearly have returned to the north east with the three points.
 
James had to come to Liverpool's rescue as early as the seventh minute after Dominic Matteo had slipped to let in Quinn. His shot was firmly struck but James stood up and was able to beat it away. Matteo again had trouble with his footwear eight minutes from half-time after Richard Ord had played a long ball over the top. Quinn immediately latched on to it and attempted to go round James. The keeper was able to get his hand to it but only as far as Paul Stewart. The former Liverpool man thundered in a shot only to see it blocked by Michael Thomas.
 
Liverpool tried desperately to put pressure on keeper Tony Coton, who was still carrying the effects of his Achilles tendon injury, which made him a doubtful starter for the game. His colleagues, however, formed a formidable barrier and it was only in the last half-hour that the home side began to step up the pace. Coton did well to turn away a shot from Robbie Fowler after Stan Collymore had delivered the cross.
 
Then a minute later Stig Bjornebye swung in a corner and Barnes was able to get clear, only to see his header rattle the bar. Steve McManaman and then Fowler both went close as they tried to break the deadlock but Sunderland, in a rare break, almost got the opening goal. James again had to look lively to nick the ball off the toes of Steve Agnew after the Sunderland midfielder had skipped away from Phil Babb.
 
Peter Reid is keeping his feet firmly on the ground despite Sunderland's impressive start to the new season. The newly-promoted side frustrated Liverpool today and came away from Anfield with a point in a 0-0 draw.
 
Sunderland have now picked up five points from their first three matches but Reid said: "We won't be getting carried away. After all it is just the first week of the season. The satisfying thing from my point of view is that we have not looked out of our depth. We know, however, we have to do it week in week out. I thought we defended well today and we did a man-marking job on Steve McManaman. All credit to the team -- they did very well. I can't remember Liverpool getting a clear-cut chance and all my players deserve a pat on the back. I felt it necessary to get to Liverpool's strengths."
 
Liverpool keeper David James, called up to the England World Cup squad, had to make two vital saves from Republic of Ireland striker Niall Quinn. Manager Roy Evans said: "It was a frustrating day for us and our movement has to be far better in all areas of the field. Today it was average. Sunderland made it difficult for us and at the end of the day we didn't create enough space. We have to learn to cope with the way teams like Sunderland play."
 
Copyright - Press Association
 
Press' Liverpool man of the match awards
The Sunday Mirror: Steve McManaman.
The Daily Mirror: Dominic Matteo (7/10).
The Liverpool Echo: Stig Inge Bjornebye.
90 Minutes: Dominic Matteo (8/10).

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