Liverpool suffered what looks almost certain to be a fatal blow in their bid to earn Champions League soccer next season, after going down 1-0 to Sunderland on Saturday.

The defeat will be particularly painful for Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina who must wonder what he has done to anger the Stadium of Light gods after being beaten by yet another fortune-fueled goal on Sunderland's patch.

It was Reina who was left befuddled in October 2009 when then-Sunderland striker Darren Bent's shot struck a rogue beach ball to beat the Spaniard. Though not quite as extraordinary, Reina was similarly helpless to do anything about Nicklas Bendtner's winning goal this time around.

Fraizer Campbell struck a low right-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area that evaded Reina's dive and struck the foot of the post. What happened next may still be a little hazy to Liverpool's number one. The ball bouncing back and striking Reina on the back before hitting the same post once more.

Bendtner was the quickest to react to the bizarre turn of events and was on hand to smash the ball home past the befuddled Reina.

Liverpool were without their captain Steven Gerrard for most of the match, with the midfielder only deemed fit enough for a 20 minute substitute appearance. His absence, though, is no excuse for Liverpool's lack of impetus against a Sunderland side missing key players of their own in Lee Cattermole and Stephane Sessegnon.

This result leaves Sunderland just one place and two points behind their far-more illustrious opponents in the Premier League table, albeit having played a game more than Liverpool. It is hard to question that Martin O'Neil has made significantly more of the resources available to him in his short time in the Sunderland hot seat than his opposite number Kenny Dalglish has at Liverpool.

While their Carling Cup triumph will bide him some time, Dalglish will know that results must improve in the bread and butter of the Barclays Premier League.

sunderland vs liverpool 1-0 by agenbolacom