Apr 27, 2014, 8:55 AM EDT
Gus Poyet’s Sunderland revival looks to be nearing completion.
With a massive 3-0 win over fellow relegation candidates Cardiff City, the home fans at the Stadium of Light have seen their team take control of its own destiny in the fight for Premier League survival.
Connor Wickham opened the scoring for the home side with a header just before the half-hour mark, with a controversial penalty and straight red just before halftime dooming Cardiff City.
Both sides started very cautiously, as nervy would be the best way to describe the opening half-hour.
As the clock neared the half-hour mark, however, Sunderland took the best chance thus far and put it in the back of the net. A corner bounced on its way to the far post, and Wickham was there to nudge Kevin Theophile-Catherine out of the way, getting a head to the ball and sending it back across the face of the goal.
Wickham’s header snuck over the head of Peter Wittingham covering the near post, and the ball nestled into the goal for a 1-0 lead.
Sunderland nearly went two-up less than 10 minutes later when Jack Colback looked to finish a quick break off a long ball but he slashed it just wide right.
Just before the halftime whistle, a major mistake by Cardiff defender Juan Cala put Sunderland well and truly ahead. He was dispossessed as the last man back by Connor Wickham, and he in turn held back Wickham, earning himself a red card.
The sending off could not be disputed, but referee Phil Dowd also awarded a penalty for the foul despite a long attempt to play advantage.
Replays showed the foul took place well outside the box, but Fabio Borini was strong from the spot for a 2-0 lead on the stroke of halftime.
FIFA rules do state if a last-man foul continues into the box, which it appeared to do, then a penalty should be awarded.
In addition, Dowd waited a full eight seconds before blowing his whistle to end the attempt at playing advantage. Premier League rules state the referee can wait “a few seconds” before deciding to pull back advantage.
The second half was all Sunderland, with John O’Shea coming close to a third for Sunderland, as a brilliant ball from Johnson curled into the box for the defender but even a sublime first touch from O’Shea couldn’t keep it from Theophile-Catherine.
Cardiff offered little, and they were saved from conceding a third by David Marshall in the 72nd minute. The ball bounced around and fell to Colback on the left edge of the box, and he cut across to Borini who slid in for the finish, but Marshall was equal to the task.
The third did finally come in the 76th minute, as substitute Emmanuel Giaccherini put away a perfect through ball from Borini and Sunderland were officially out of the relegation zone.
Wickham picked up a second for his brace in exactly the same fashion as his first, beating Theophile-Catherine off a corner to head the ball into the back of the net.
Kenwyne Jones looked to head in a consolation prize for the visitors, but it went over, and it looks as if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s attempt to rescue Cardiff City from a host of off the field issues could be for naught.
Sunderland are now in 17th position, even on points with Norwich City but ahead on goal difference with a game in hand. Cardiff are now bottom of the table with 30 points, joined by Norwich and also Fulham, who failed to keep pace with Sunderland by dropping a 2-goal lead to Hull City.
The relegation battle remains heated, with the four clubs just two full points apart, but Vincent Tan’s decision to sack Malky Mackay looks more and more calamitous as they continue to spiral out of control.
Sunderland – Mannone; Vergini, Alonso, O’Shea, Brown; Cattermole, Larsson (Giaccherini 73′), Colback (Bridcutt 84′), Johnson (Gardner 84′); Borini, Wickham.
Goals: Wickham 26′, 86′; Borini 45’+1 (pen); Giaccherini 76′
Cardiff City – Marshall; Theophile, Caulker, Cala, Fabio (Jones 64′); Cowie (Zaha 46′), Medel, Whittingham, Dæhli; Mutch, Campbell (Bellamy 74′).
Discipline: Cala (straight red) 45’+1
Mar 29, 2015, 9:40 AM EDT
If Adnan Januzaj wants to make a return to the Belgium squad, he must focus on earning playing time at his club first.
Mar 29, 2015, 8:13 AM EDT
An agreement has reportedly been reached between the current American owner and a domestic ownership group.
Mar 29, 2015, 7:34 AM EDT
Gareth Bale knows what people are saying about his recent play at Real Madrid, but he’s not listening.
Mar 28, 2015, 11:30 PM EDT
Catch up on all the action from Week 4 of the MLS season.
Mar 28, 2015, 10:41 PM EDT
A disappointing result for FCD, given Seattle’s lack of Dempsey and Martins, but a great one considering their early red card.
Mar 28, 2015, 10:06 PM EDT
Three more points for Vancouver, who win it late on Robert Earnshaw’s Whitecaps debut. He scores for everyone.
Mar 28, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT
It was the late, late, late show at RFK Stadium, and despite being thoroughly outplayed, D.C. United go home with three points.
Mar 28, 2015, 9:04 PM EDT
Sporting KC get their first victory of the season, while NYCFC suffer their first defeat of the year — and history.
Mar 28, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT
It wasn’t a great day to be a traditional European giant, but it was a great day to be Gareth Bale and Wales.
Mar 28, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
A dominant performance — and the three points to match — from the Revs…finally.
Mar 28, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT
Think that MLS playing through int’l windows isn’t a big deal? Let’s ask Orlando City what they think about it.
Mar 28, 2015, 2:50 PM EDT
Campbell was capped 73 times, and is England’s second-youngest captain. Clearly he knows that, too.
Mar 28, 2015, 1:39 PM EDT
The Canaries finished in 7th place last season in the Veikkausliiga, Finland’s top-flight.
Mar 28, 2015, 12:54 PM EDT
Should the States’ losses in friendlies represent anything other than a concern at the lack of US youth readiness for the big stage?
Mar 28, 2015, 12:08 PM EDT
This likely comes as a surprise to Liverpool fans, as Johnson is widely treated rightly or wrongly as a scapegoat by Reds supporters.
Mar 28, 2015, 10:37 AM EDT
Does the embattled USMNT coach have a point? I’m again bracing for the comment section when I say… I think so.
Mar 28, 2015, 7:55 AM EDT
The States are 1-4 in their last five matches, all four coming on the road (Colombia, Ireland, Chile and Denmark).
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