Goals came from Dirk Kuyt in the first half, a finely taken penalty after Jay Spearing was brought down on the edge of the box. A contentious decision from the linesman with television replays indicating the foul had taken place outside the box.
The second came in the second half, with Luis Suarez once again proving his worth with a moment of magic. The Uruguayan striker collected the ball from Kuyt on the byline, turned inside towards the goal, finishing with explosive shot from an acute angle to win the game for the Reds.
The Black Cats were reduced to ten men late on when John Mensah brought down Suarez, who was through on goal. Mensah was shown the red card, whilst Suarez came close with the resulting free-kick.
The result means Liverpool close the gap on fifth place Spurs to four points, although the Londoners have a game in hand. More importantly though, it was a positive and spirited performance from the Reds, a solid display from Spearing, and another moment of genius from Suarez.
Team Line-ups and Substitutions
Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, Richardson (Malbranque 22), Mensah, Bramble, Ferdinand, Henderson, Muntari (Cattermole 19), Sessegnon, Welbeck (Elmohamady 60), Gyan.
Substitutes: Gordon, Onuoha, Cattermole, Zenden, Malbranque, Colback, Elmohamady.
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Skrtel, Meireles (Maxi 84), Lucas, Spearing, Suarez (Cole 89), Carroll (Ngog 72), Kuyt.
Substitutes: Gulacsi, Kyrgiakos, Wilson, Cole, Maxi, Poulsen, Ngog.