Sunderland - Connor Wickham continued his rich vein of scoring form, finding the
net twice to help Sunderland climb out of the bottom three thanks to a
4-0 win over fellow Premier League strugglers Cardiff City.
The Welshmen replaced the Wearside club in propping-up the division after Wickham made it five goals in three games.
also earned a penalty converted by Fabio Borini to double the hosts'
lead in first-half stoppage time at the Stadium of Light on Sunday.
priceless win for Gus Poyet's side saw them climb to 17th, out of the
bottom three for the first time in more than two months with three games
That gave Sunderland renewed hope of beating the drop thanks to a return of seven points from the last possible nine.
was a rather more bleak picture for Cardiff, who were forced to play
the second half with 10 men after defender Juan Cala was sent off.
their goal-difference, they are effectively three points adrift of
safety with just two games remaining. They make an immediate return to
the north-east of England next week at out of form Newcastle, before
finishing the campaign at home to Chelsea on May 11.
close to reducing the arrears after the break, as manager Ole Gunnar
Solskjaer threw on substitutes Wilfried Zaha and former Black Cats
favourite Kenwyne Jones in a bid to force the issue.
It took a
fine save from Vito Mannone to keep out Peter Whittingham's deflected
long-range free-kick midway through the second half as the hosts were
forced back, until late goals from substitute Emanuele Giaccherini and a
second from Wickham provided a slightly flattering final scoreline.
of the hard work was done before the break as Sunderland surged into a
two-goal lead en route to only their second home league win since
Despite dominating for long spells, they had to wait
until the 28th minute to go ahead, the deadlock-breaking goal arriving
thanks to some abject defending from the visitors.
Colback fired narrowly wide from long-range after capitalising on more
defensive uncertainty from Cardiff, but Sunderland didn't have long to
wait before claiming the contest's crucial second goal.
arrived in controversial circumstances, Cala earning a straight red card
for hauling back Wickham after the forward intercepted the central
defender's weak back-pass.
Replays showed the offence started
outside the area, though the shirt-tug continued into the box, before
referee Phil Dowd pulled play back to award a penalty after the initial
advantage came to nothing.
Borini ignored the lengthy protests to beat goalkeeper David Marshall low to the goalkeeper's left.
on-loan Liverpool forward remained a constant threat, and played a
major role in the third goal with 14 minutes left, Giaccherini running
onto his pass to out-muscle Gary Medel and slip a shot under Marshall
three minutes after entering the fray as a substitute.
travel next to Manchester United, before welcoming West Brom and
Swansea in the final week of the season as they close-in on the 36-point
safety mark set by head coach Poyet.
They will go to Old
Trafford with confidence high after Wickham pounced for the fourth goal
with four minutes remaining, again evading the attentions of
Theophile-Catherine to head home via a slight deflection off the hapless
defender from a Giaccherini corner.