LIVERPOOL, United Kingdom, Sept 26, 2010 (AFP) - Sunderland boss Steve Bruce was left seething after referee Stuart Attwell's decision to allow a controversial Liverpool goal played a key role in his side's 2-2 draw at Anfield.
After Attwell awarded Sunderland a free-kick following Raul Meireles's fifth minute foul on Titus Bramble, Black Cats central defender Michael Turner tapped the ball back towards his own goal as if to suggest to goalkeeper Simon Mignolet that he should take it.
However, legally speaking he had kicked the ball back into play and Fernando Torres spotted his mistake, raced past him and gifted the ball on a plate for Dirk Kuyt to slide past the completely bewildered Mignolet.
Darren Bent then scored twice to put Sunderland 2-1 up before Steven Gerrard rescued a point for the home side and that effectively meant Attwell's decision cost the Black Cats their first victory at Anfield for 27 years.
"You can write it and you witnessed it," Bruce said. "He got it wrong and after we played after that was fantastic.
"We should be here talking about a Sunderland win rather than the performance of a referee.
"To be fair to the referee I don't think he has seen it, he put his whistle to his mouth two or three times and everyone knew that Michael Turner had not taken the free-kick.
"But there you go. You can write the rest of it. I've paid enough fines over the last six months.
"If he is in doubt which he knew he was then he should have given the free-kick to be taken in the right position and then we are not talking about this."
To Sunderland's huge credit they did not let the setback trouble them too much as they became the second team inside a week to dominate at Anfield following Northampton's shock League Cup victory on Wednesday.
That defeat against fourth-tier Northampton heaped huge pressure on Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson.
He must have been fearing another tough day at the office when Bent converted a penalty given after Christian Poulsen handballed inside the area after 25 minutes.
Hodgson's afternoon got even worse immediately after the restart when Bent scored his second as he threw himself at a perfect Nedum Onouha cross to make it 2-1.
Gerrard's 64th minute header rescued a point for Liverpool, although the England midfielder was lucky not to be dismissed for elbowing Danny Welbeck in the head.
"It wasn't the result we wanted of course, it wasn't a victory but in many ways it was the performance we wanted," Hodgson said.
"One of the things we are lacking is that we have to play much more together. There are a lot of new players coming together in the team and we have not had much time.
"I think the more we work and play together the better you will see them become.
"Rome wasn't built in a day and we have to keep working at it."