Football Expert & Columnist
Liverpool 2-1 Sunderland: 'Surviving nervy finish will stand Reds in good stead'
Liverpool's tense win over Sunderland proves they've got the mettle for a tight title run-in, says Carra.
Last Updated: 29/03/14 6:57pm
The Reds earned a seventh successive league win thanks to goals from Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge but looked edgy after Ki Sung-Yueng's 76th-minute header.
The result lifts Liverpool to within a point of leaders Chelsea and puts them two clear of Manchester City, who have two games in hand, and Carragher told Sky Sports that Sunderland's late rally should galvanise Brendan Rodgers' side.
"It was nervy at the end but I think that will hold them in good stead between now and the end of the season," said the former England and Liverpool defender.
"So often I've been at games where they've been two or three up at half-time and the game is finished.
"But Chelsea, City and maybe even Spurs will be stronger opposition - top teams coming to Anfield - it will be tight, it will be nervy - so to go through that and come out with the three points will do them wonders between now and the end of the season."
Gerrard opened the scoring in the 39th minute when he struck a 25-yard free-kick past Vito Mannone into the top left-hand corner before the goalkeeper was beaten again on 48 minutes when Sturridge's curled shot looped over him thanks to a deflection off Wes Brown.
The strike was Sturridge's 20th league goal of the season and while his strike partner Luis Suarez has 28, Carragher said the 24-year-old's feat shows just how potent he can be for club and country.
"It is an achievement because Luis Suarez gets all the plaudits and is probably going to be Footballer of the Year but Sturridge has scored 20 goals," he reflected.
"Michael Owen was one of the top strikers this club and country has ever seen and he never scored 20 goals in a league campaign so that shows how well Sturridge has done.
"Don't forget that he was out for a couple of months but the run he's been on shows that he's a special talent.
"Liverpool are delighted with him but it's great in terms of England, the summer and the World Cup. If you think about the strikers in this league, he's one of the best."
Sunderland could have snatched a share of the points late on though after Ki nodded home a corner with 14 minutes to go but John O'Shea failed to connect with a header from six yards out.
Although Liverpool saw out the game, Carragher remains concerned that Liverpool's defensive frailty could cost them dear in the title race.
"Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel have got to deal with the ball at the near post," said Carragher, reflecting on Ki's goal. "They are two strong centre-backs and can't let a ball come through there.
"Jon Flanagan loses his man - he switches off for a second at the back post and Ki, who was excellent when he came on scored a deserved goal - but the ball should have been dealt with.
"Steven Gerrard was berating Skrtel after the O'Shea chance because he had to deal with it; you've had the first goal but he just lets O'Shea walk in there. How costly could that have been?
"Again Liverpool have conceded a goal, but they've won. But the one nagging doubt people have about why Liverpool may not do it is because of situations like that.
"They've just got to be more aggressive in that box; they've got two powerful, international centre-backs. They've got to deal with it a little bit more."