Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard once again came to his side's rescue but it was referee Stuart Attwell who was the centre of attention in Sunderland's 2-2 draw at Anfield.
Attwell, who awarded the infamous ``ghost goal'' in the Championship two years ago, allowed Dirk Kuyt's opening strike to count after ruling Michael Turner had taken a free-kick when he appeared to roll it back to goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
Darren Bent hit back with a penalty and a header either side of half-time before Gerrard nodded in Fernando Torres' near-post cross.
Torres had the ball in the net after two minutes after controlling Gerrard's free-kick on his chest and volleying in, only to be denied by an offside flag.
His next intervention three minutes later had far more impact, although he was given a huge helping hand by Attwell.
When Sunderland were awarded a free-kick 10 yards inside their half Turner tapped the ball back towards Mignolet, presumably intending for the goalkeeper to take it.
Torres raced forward and took the ball towards goal before rolling a pass to Kuyt to slide a shot into the empty net, Sunderland's appeals for the goal to be disallowed falling on deaf ears.
The visitors got back on level terms after 25 minutes when Ahmed Elmohamady's cross hit Christian Poulsen's arm and Bent's penalty went under Jose Reina's body.
Sunderland then went ahead just after the interval when Nedum Onuoha's right-wing cross caught out Glen Johnson and allowed Bent to head home.
With the game seemingly drifting away from them, Liverpool's two star players dragged them back into the contest midway through the half. Torres beat Bardsley close to the right touchline and swung over an inviting cross which Gerrard headed in at the near post.