By ESPNSTAR.com staff
The Reds' star striker scarcely put a foot wrong and demonstrated exquisite control and exceptional dribbling and finishing skills. He was also aided by a fluid passing game that saw Liverpool stay in possession for more than 70% of the time.
Sunderland were quickly down a goal after Raheem Sterling, aided a superb lob by Suarez, broke free and chipped Simon Mignolet. Suarez then took control after he shrugged the attentions of a defender and bore down on goal from the right to score his first and got on the end of a superb long ball from Gerrard to condemn the Black Cats to a defeat.
ESPNSTAR.com rates a match that would have inspired Liverpool fans who can, on the back of this excellent team performance, dare to dream that the new year could bring some much-needed cheer. The recently-signed Daniel Sturridge watching from the stands would have been left impressed as well.
Pepe Reina - 7
The Liverpool custodian was rarely called to action but made a sharp save in the first half from close range.
Andre Wisdom - 7.5
The young right-back did well on the night and chose the simple route by clearing to the stands instead of doing anything fancy and did not get into any trouble on this rare first-team outing.
Daniel Agger - 7.5
Agger was in the right places at the right times to snuff out any budding Sunderland attacks.
Martin Skrtel - 8
The Slovakian, interestingly, was better at distributing the ball than his Danish counterpart and perhaps Rodgers has made him put the hours to improve his passing this season to fit into the new system. It seems to have worked if one were to judge by this showing by the central defender.
Glen Johnson - 7.5
Deployed in the unfamiliar role of left-back after Jose Enrique's enforced absence through injury, the England international put in a decent showing. However, he needs to figure out a way to improve the accuracy of his crosses when playing in a left-sided position even if he has no choice but to employ his weaker foot.
Steven Gerrard - 8.5
This was finally a performance that brought back memories of the match-winning Gerrard that Liverpool fans once became used to witnessing on a regular basis. He distributed the ball with accuracy, vision and he made his decisions quickly and unerringly and rarely dwelled on the ball. Moreover, he regularly won the ball off the Sunderland players due to his good positioning skills as opposed to an unnecessary application of force as he had been doing in previous matches.
It was heartening to watch the 32-year-old back to his very best and it should give Liverpool fans some hope that their captain could yet play a pivotal role in the second half of the season. His pass to Suarez for the latter's second goal was sublime and well worth a watch for any aspiring playmaker.
Jordan Henderson - 7.5
Henderson was good with his passes but needs to improve his dribbling as he has the tendency to lose the ball while on the run.
Lucas - 7
The Brazilian was useful in shielding the defence as he repeatedly harried the Sunderland players but gave away too many free-kicks in dangerous areas. These set piece opportunities could have changed things if Sunderland had managed to capitalise on any one of them and fought their way back into the game.
Raheem Sterling (off 57') - 8
The 18-year-old demonstrated great composure to chip the ball over Mignolet for his goal and was always willing to make the early run in order to give Suarez and the midfielders an opportunity to effectively carry out counter-attacks and put pressure on the Sunderland defence.
Stewart Downing - 7.5
Downing put in several crosses and was always a threat down the left flank.
Luis Suarez - 9
Suarez showed his class as he sent in incisive first-time passes to release Sterling inside the box and his superb first touch allowed him to carve out opportunities from the most unlikeliest of passes and clearances.
The Uruguayan has already scored 15 goals and would be a strong contender for the player of the season and only a certain Dutchman can deny him that accolade now.
Joe Allen (on 57') - 8
Still lacking a goal in the league, Allen came close late in the game when he fired a ball in from close range but a fellow team-mate was deemed to have been marginally offside. The Welshman's eagerness to score a goal should be rewarded with one sooner than later.
Suso (on 67') - 7
The youngster showed flashes of his brilliance but could not really get into dangerous positions on a regular basis. He needs to participate more in helping the team press the defence in order to truly integrate into Rodgers' masterplan.
Jamie Carragher (on 74') - 7
Carragher's introduction allowed him to become second in the all-time list of league appearances by a Liverpool player and the long-serving stalwart rightly received a round of applause for his services in the game.
Simon Mignolet - 6.5
Let down by his defence, Mignolet did all that he could to help ensure Sunderland had a glimmer of a chance at least until half-time. The third goal, however, killed off all hopes of a fightback and Mignolet's goal was then peppered with shots.
Danny Rose (off 73') - 6
Early on, he seemed to have gotten a handle on England U-21 team-mate Sterling but the winger drifted into a more central position and exploited the space between the left-back and the central defenders.
Craig Gardner - 5.5
Gardner was kept preoccupied by an energetic Downing and should have gone for the challenge more regularly in order to limit the winger's impact.
Matthew Kilgallon - 4
The central defender was far too slow and this fallibility was readily exploited by the electric Suarez within the game.
Carlos Cuellar - 5
The Spaniard opted to swap physicality for intelligence and it didn't work for him as Suarez easily brushed off his attempts to muscle him off the ball and scored the first of his two goals in exactly this fashion.
Adam Johnson - 6
Johnson was one of the few players that could escape with his dignity intact as he sent in a couple of decent crosses and was generally lively and upbeat.
James McClean - 5
The winger became anonymous within the game and rarely ventured back to help out the defence or demand the ball.
Sebastian Larsson (off 62') - 5
Larsson, inexplicably, was tasked with the role of marking Gerrard and therefore the player's creative talents were utterly wasted within the game.
Jack Colback - 4.5
A determined run down the right in the second half was the only highlight of Colback's performance.
Steven Fletcher - 5
The striker had a hard time operating by himself upfront and did himself no favours by opting not to hold the ball and wait for backup.
Stephane Sessegnon (off 46') - 4
Sessegnon was repeatedly harangued by a physical Lucas but the Beninese should have had the talent to keep hold of the ball and not disrupt the flow of the Sunderland attack.
Fraizer Campbell (on 46') - 5
Brought on to help support Fletcher in attack, Campbell repeatedly lost possession and was ineffectual as a striker.
James McFadden (on 62') - 5
Did not provide much impetus to the attack nor did he provide help to a tiring defence.
David Vaughan (on 73') - 5
Vaughan was scarcely better than Rose as the younger defender at least demonstrated the resolve to join the attack while the substitute was mostly camped in the Sunderland half.