The Reds have now lost four of their last five away from Anfield after a fairly strong run on unfamiliar territory as the Black Cats get back to winning ways after three without maximum points.
Nicklas Bendtner scored the only goal of the game with a close range finish after Fraizer Campbell's effort had hit the post and then bounced back off Reds keeper Pepe Reina for the Dane to fire into the top corner.
For the second match in a row, Liverpool appeared to control possession and ended up with more shots on goal than their opponents but walked away empty-handed to see their already bleak Champions League chances slip away even further as they now find themselves 10 points adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal.
Sunderland, like their opposition, failed to create many out-and-out scoring chances but Martin O'Neill would be delighted his charges fought hard for a vital three points, which sees them move up to eighth on the back of Fulham's injury-time loss to Aston Villa, but would have been distressed to see Bendtner carried off the pitch late with a suspected knee injury.
TRIBAL ASKS: Is that it for Liverpool in regards to the Champions League? Should they simply concentrate on the FA Cup now?
Stadium of Light, Sunderland - 41,661