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
Jul 7, 2015, 11:41 PM EDT
From Alvarado to Zardes with Najar in between, Andy Edwards tells you what he saw in Frisco.
Jul 7, 2015, 11:30 PM EDT
Next up in Group A is a Friday doubleheader in Foxborough, with Panama and Honduras opening the evening for the U.S. and Haiti.
Jul 7, 2015, 10:30 PM EDT
Ruiz will join a potent attack with Islam Slimani and Fredy Montero.
Jul 7, 2015, 9:12 PM EDT
The idea of gold playing a big role is nice, although only the red separate this look from the Philadelphia Union.
Jul 7, 2015, 9:06 PM EDT
Duckens Moses Nazon, take a bow: Your 86th minute goal helped start the 2015 Gold Cup in style.
Jul 7, 2015, 8:37 PM EDT
Michael Bradley assumes the captain’s armband from Clint Dempsey and will earn cap No. 100 for his career in the Gold Cup.
Jul 7, 2015, 8:21 PM EDT
It’s certainly one of those press releases that makes you think, “Well, I had just assumed that happened, but thanks for confirming.”
Jul 7, 2015, 7:52 PM EDT
All this on the heels of the USWNT announced as the first female team to received a ticker tape parade down New York City’s Canyon of Heroes.
Jul 7, 2015, 7:01 PM EDT
You get the feeling it’s impossible not to be motivated when Steven Gerrard is your teammate. Now toss in Robbie Keane.
Jul 7, 2015, 6:20 PM EDT
The last female to receive a ticker tape parade down that route was 1960 Olympic figure skating gold medalist Carol Heiss Jenkins.
Jul 7, 2015, 4:58 PM EDT
Their “no-name” defense hasn’t allowed a goal in four matches, and Canada could surprise you this month.
United States midfielder Lauren Holiday announces plans to retire with Women’s World Cup title in hand
Jul 7, 2015, 4:50 PM EDT
Lauren Holiday, 27, scored the eventual game-winning goal in the 2015 Women’s World Cup final.
Lampard talks club, challenge, Gerrard: “For me this is as much of a challenge as Chelsea was, as Man City was” (video)
Jul 7, 2015, 4:09 PM EDT
“For me this is as much of a challenge as Chelsea was, as Man City was,” Lampard said. “I play football to win.”
Jul 7, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT
PST’s staff predict how the Gold Cup will play out as the USA, Mexico and Costa Rica clash to become CONCACAF champs.
Jul 7, 2015, 3:05 PM EDT
Altidore and Dempsey will lead the attack. But who else is in reserve?
Jul 7, 2015, 2:35 PM EDT
Is he in the top five of superstars to join North America’s top-flight since the DP rule was introduced?
Jul 7, 2015, 1:59 PM EDT
Will Yedlin start on the right? Have Bradley and Mix got the center locked down?
Jul 7, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT
A man who’ll go down as one of the USMNT’s all-time greats hits 100 caps tonight. A few thoughts on Il Generale.
Jul 7, 2015, 12:15 PM EDT
Day 1 of the 2015 Gold Cup is here, as the U.S. starts its title defense with a showdown in Texas.
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