Sunderland - Sunderland moved out of the bottom three in the English Premier League for
the first time since August with a 1-0 win over Stoke City on Wednesday.
Adam Johnson's 17th-minute goal continued the club's good run under Gustavo
Poyet which has seen them lose only one of their last eight league games and
also reach the League Cup final.
Stoke, though, are on a desperate run with five defeats in their last six
league games and a winless run away from home stretching to 10 games.
As a result, they are fifth from bottom and only three points above the
Sunderland started in a confident frame of mind with Swedish international
Sebastian Larsson testing Asmir Begovic - recalled by Mark Hughes in place of
Jack Butland - early on.
The hosts deservedly took the lead when Johnson fired home after Begovic
failed to gather Fabio Borini's shot, the strike meaning the England winger has
either scored or created Sunderland's last seven league goals.
Stoke finally troubled Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone just after the
half-hour mark as the Italian collided with John O'Shea but did brilliantly to
twice deny former England international striker Peter Crouch from close range.
Mannone may have been fortunate that Crouch was so wasteful but there was
nothing lucky about the brilliant stop he pulled off in the 40th minute from
Ryan Shawcross, who had unintentionally deflected Charle Adam's innocuous shot.
Stoke's task got even harder in the 53rd minute as Steven N'Zonzi was sent
off by referee Steven Madley for a second bookable offence after bringing down
American international Jozy Altidore.
Altidore went close to doubling the lead shortly afterwards but was denied
by Begovic and the outstanding Johnson also went close after being set up by
Borini, his shot just sliding the wrong side of the post.
Begovic then produced a save out of the top drawer to deny Larsson but it
was Stoke who finished the strongest.
Adam - who has shown a return to some form since his disappointing spell at
Liverpool - drilled a free-kick at Mannone, new signing Peter Odemwingie
underhit a shot when well-placed to score, and Shawcross's header beat the
Italian goalkeeper but came back off the bar.