We did it for the 96, says Shelvey as Liverpool are held to Sunderland draw
21:30 GMT, 16 September 2012
There was no doubt about the inspiration for Liverpool making sure their disappointing start to the season did not take a turn for the worse at Sunderland.
Jonjo Shelvey revealed that in their team-talks, manager Brendan Rodgers and captain Steven Gerrard had emphasised the need to get Liverpool's season on track at the end of the week in which the Hillsborough report had exposed the truth about the tragedy.
Mark of respect: The Liverpool squad before Saturday's clash with Sunderland
'Stevie G always has words of inspiration for us before kick-off,' said Shelvey after the 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light.
'His message was “Do it for the Hillsborough Fans. The 96 who died.'' What happened this week was an inspiration for us. The Liverpool fans fought for years to get that verdict and we wanted to come to a stadium like this in our first match since, and do it for them.'
But Liverpool's first half was not up to the standard that will be needed against Manchester United on Sunday.
Sunderland may have been lucky to lead through 12million signing Steven Fletcher's third goal in two games, but Rodgers' Liverpool line-up was all over the place.
Net gains: Suarez scored in the draw at Sunderland
Sunderland (4-4-1-1): Mignolet 8; Gardner 7, O’Shea 6, Cuellar 5 (Bramble 46min, 5), Rose 6 (Campbell 72, 5); Larsson 6, Colback 6, Cattermole 7, McClean 5; Sessegnon 5; Fletcher 6 (Saha 86).
Subs not used: Kilgallon, Ji, Meyler, Westwood.
Scorer: Fletcher 29.
Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Reina 5; Kelly 6, Skrtel 5, Agger 5, Johnson 6; Allen 6, Gerrard 6; Sterling 7, Shelvey 7, Suarez 6; Borini 4 (Downing 64, 7).
Subs not used: Enrique, Sahin, Assaidi, Henderson, Carragher, Jones. Booked: Suarez, Skrtel.
Scorer: Suarez 71.
Referee: Martin Atkinson 6.
Man of the match: Simon Mignolet.
Luis Suarez flirted with the left-wing – and was as culpable, if less qualified, as Glen Johnson in the dreadful defending that allowed Craig Gardner to create the goal.
Steven Gerrard was forced to meander in front of a fragile back four to cover for Joe Allen's nervousness.
The second half was a marked improvement, particularly when Fabio Borini was replaced by Stewart Downing and Suarez was left to roam closer to the goal posts that Johnson and Gerrard struck earlier, and where he buried a rebound off Titus Bramble's legs.
Rodgers said: 'It was a big emotional week, as you can imagine. We used that as a lever and platform to bring into this game – that performance gives us great hope. The verdict in the week helps the city and the club move forward.'
Today is the start of a first full week for Sunderland's signings, although Adam Johnson's thigh injury may delay his training.
The winger has played only two games but he was missed in a side pinned back for most of their third draw in three games.