- Premier League
Sturridge: Handball was an accidentESPN staff September 29, 2013 « Liverpool Ladies win title decider against Bristol | Murray takes third doubles title of the year »
Daniel Sturridge insisted his handball that helped Liverpool into the lead at Sunderland was unintentional after Brendan Rodgers' side had completed a 3-1 win on Wearside.
Sturridge grabbed his fifth Premier League goal of the campaign as a Steven Gerrard corner diverted in off his arm. The former Chelsea striker then went on to set up two goals for the returning Luis Suarez as Liverpool bounced back after from their home defeat to Southampton last time out.
"It's a great ball from Stevie, it's gone over the defender's head and it was last minute, I've obviously tried to head it but I guess my heading's not good enough," he told Sky Sports.
"The ball's just gone in off my arm but I wouldn't do that on purpose. Sometimes these things happen."
That controversy aside, Sturridge was in fine form as he laid two goals on a plate for Suarez, who was making his first top-flight start of the season. It meant Liverpool moved second in the table but the England forward was quick to play down any talk that they could emerge as genuine title contenders.
"It's early days -- take every day as it comes. Don't worry about the future, worry about the here and now,'' he said. "I don't think we played as well as we could have in the first half, even though we were 2-0 up, but it was very difficult in the second half.
"We took our foot off the pedal a little bit and once they scored a goal it got a bit more difficult for us, but we held on in the end. We defended well towards the end of the game and then got a late goal, which killed it off."
Sturridge and Suarez linked up well together and the striker believes the Uruguayan's presence can only help Liverpool this season.
"It's great to have him back in -- he gives us options and he's one of the best forwards in the league. We form a good partnership,'' the former Manchester City striker said. "We miss Philippe Coutinho, with his injury; we've got some great players in this team and I'm happy to be playing with them."
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers was also delighted to have Suarez back in the fold. "He's getting the reward for his hard work over the period that he was off. I thought he was excellent the other night at Old Trafford,'' Rodgers said.
"Him and Daniel up front are a real, real handful. They combined very well. On the back of a really tough game where we played well during the week, today was always going to be physically demanding game for us.
"I thought the work we put into it was exceptional and to get the three goals and maybe a few more chances to score a few more. I thought we were really dangerous on the counter-attack and as a team we worked really, really hard."
Sunderland interim head coach Kevin Ball was pleased with his side's efforts in his second game in charge. "We spoke at half-time and I thought you saw a great reaction," he said. "They gave it a really good go in the second half.
"We took it right to the death but unfortunately you're susceptible to that counter-attack where 3-1 - and I don't mean this as disrespect to Liverpool - flatters them a little bit. It was a shame because I thought the lads had a real good go today and that's something we need to take heart from."
Download ESPN's new UK sport app, a fresh and powerful new way to follow your favourite UK sports news, scores and video.