Sunderland completed their great escape and secured Premier League survival with a game to spare thanks to a 2-0 win against West Brom at the Stadium of Light.
The victory takes Gus Poyet’s side onto 38 points, five clear of 18th-placed Norwich, who can only stay up should a 16-goal swing between them and the Baggies occur on the final day of the season.
The Black Cats started the game in a positive mood, after a recent run which has seen them win three games in a row, including unlikely victories at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge.
They continued to enjoy the better of the game and doubled their lead after half an hour thanks to an exquisite interchange of passes between Fabio Borini and Seb Larsson which resulted in the Swede lofting the ball over the West Brom defence for the on-loan forward to volley home.
Pepe Mel’s introduction of Youssouf Mulumbu at the interval helped to inject some vigour into West Brom’s midfield but they still lacked the cutting edge to finish their chances and trouble Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone.
The best chance of the second half came when Borini played in Santiago Vergini whose shot across goal ran narrowly wide in the 69th minute.
6’ - BORINI’S WARNING SHOT: Alonso, on the left wing, plays the ball infield to Borini who makes the most of the room he is afforded to have a fierce shot from outside the area which Foster does well to tip over.
12’ – COLBACK SCORES: Sunderland take the lead through Jack Colback after Alonso's left wing cross is poked home expertly from close range.
30’ – BORINI DOUBLES ADVANTAGE: Larsson receives the ball outside the area from Borini who continues his run into the area and picks up the return pass in front of Foster where he is left with the simple task of touching it into the net.
56’ – WEST BROM WASTE CHANCE OF COMEBACK: Mulumbu does well to release Dawson who plays a pacy ball across the goalmouth but Anichebe can't connect. Finally a chance but it is wasted again.
69’ – VERGINI GOES CLOSE: Larsson lays off Borini who spins and presents Vergini with the chance to shoot across goal but the defender's shot is wide. A massive let off for West Brom.
Sunderland recorded four successive Premier League wins for the first time since December 2000.
Sunderland may be adept at bringing down the big guns, but their win against West Brom was only their third against a side in the bottom half of the table.
Sunderland ended an eight-game Premier League run against West Brom without a win.
West Brom are still to have a player sent off this season. Sunderland are the worst offenders with seven red cards.
What can Sunderland achieve next season? Gus Poyet has shown he is capable of mixing it in the Premier League having pulled off impressive victories against the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United and an away draw against Manchester City. His side played some impressive stuff against West Brom, with the second goal in particular worthy of a second watch. But building on this platform and taking it on next season could prove a trickier prospect.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Fabio Borini (Sunderland): The on-loan forward was central to all of Sunderland’s best moves and a constant thorn in the side of the West Brom defence. His goal showed he has the potential to continue developing into a fine player. In this kind of form he will become an asset to Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool next season.
Sunderland: Mannone 5, Vergini 6, Alonso 7, Brown 6, O'Shea 6, Cattermole 7, Colback 6, Larsson 7, Johnson 6, Borini 8, Wickham 6. Subs: Altidore 4, Giaccherini 4, Bridcutt 6.
West Brom: Foster 5, Reid 4, McAuley 5, Lugano 5, Brunt 5, Berahino 5, Yacob 5, Morrison 5, Dorrans 5, Sessegnon 5, Anichebe 5. Subs: Dawson 5, Vydra 4, Mulumbu 6.
MATCH IN A TWEET
- Sports & Recreation
- Premier League
- Fabio Borini
- Jack Colback