Craven Cottage stormed by Black Cats
Sunderland needed a win heading into a game against a Fulham side who had only conceded 4 goals at home this season. The Lads almost doubled that tally in one game!
After some early possession by the Black Cats, it was the home side that got the first shot. However, Steve Sidwell’s tame effort was easily saved by Simon Mignolet.
Twelve minutes later, Lee Cattermole was on the receiving end of a tackle from Fulham skipper Brede Hangeland and the tall centre back was sent off for the first time in Fulham colours.
Alexander Kacaniklic and Giorgos Karagounis were subbed off in a Fulham reshuffle.
On 41 minutes, Sunderland should have made the spare man count when Stephane Sessegnon was through but his cross was easily cleared by the back four.
Just before half time, Phil Bardsley was almost knocked over when he blocked a free kick but the ball eventually fell to Dimitar Berbatov and the Bulgarian spurned his opportunity to give the ten men team the lead.
Former Liverpool left back John Arne Riise came close on 49 minutes when his deflected shot looped over Mignolet and onto the bar. However, from this shot, the Black Cats counter attacked. Adam Johnson played an exquisite cross field ball to Steven Fletcher. The striker was never going to miss and he poked the ball into the far corner to put Sunderland in the lead.
Substitute Mladen Petric then caused Sunderland a few problems and on 62 minutes Carlos Cuellar was caught sleeping and the sub tapped in ex-Newcastle winger Damien Duff’s cross.
Despite this setback, the Lads showed resolve. Another good delivery from Johnson saw his corner met by the head of Cuellar. Eleven yards out, the Spaniard powered the ball into the bottom left corner with his head after some poor marking by Steve Sidwell. Only five minutes later, Sunderland hit on the break again. This time Fletcher, on the left wing, played it inside to Sessegnon. The Benin International then unleashed a shot that flew into the corner from 25 yards out, hitting the post on its way into the net. Like Cuellar, it was his first goal this season.
Seb Larsson then made way for James McClean to freshen up the Sunderland midfield.
Two minutes after Fletcher’s rightly disallowed offside goal, Sidwell missed another chance, with Mignolet winning the duel. David Vaughan then came on for Jack Colback. In the closing exchanges, Petric had another shot blocked by the superb Mignolet.
With this much improved team performance especially from Sessegnon with two brilliant finishes from Fletcher and Cuellar, the Lads moved up two places to 15th.
Despite this fantastic result, Sunderland host to high-flying 4th placed West Brom on Saturday where another three points will certainly restore belief back into Sunderland. With the next four out of five games coming at home, the Lads could find themselves well clear of the relegation spots come Christmas.
Sunderland team: Simon Mignolet, Phil Bardsley, Danny Rose, John O’Shea, Carlos Cuellar, Lee Cattermole, Jack Colback, Seb Larsson, Stephane Sessegnon, Adam Johnson, Steven Fletcher