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Defensive duo seal Sunderland survival, send Newcastle and Norwich down

Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | May 11, 2016

Sunderland 3-0 Everton

  • Van Aanholt opens scoring with free-kick
  • Mistake by Robles, but atones with Defoe save
  • Resultant corner eventually smuggled in by Kone
  • Kone poaches a third from another corner 10 minutes into second-half
  • Black Cats win relegates both Newcastle and Norwich

Big Sam completes great escape

Sunderland secured Premier League survival thanks to two first-half set-piece goals against Everton, relegating bitter rivals Newcastle United and Norwich City in the process.

Sunderland v Everton - Barclays Premier League - Stadium of Light

A fitting way for a Sam Allardyce side to stay up, it will only intensify the hatred felt for the manager on Tyneside, as the Black Cats boss was previously Magpies manager.

Patrick van Aanholt’s free-kick found a way through the Toffees wall with Joel Robles wrong-footed, then the Spanish stopper redeemed his error with a terrific one-handed stop to deny Jermain Defoe – only for his teammates to let him down from the resulting corner.

Lamine Kone hooked home a second for Sunderland when Yann M’Vila nodded back into the mix, and James McCarthy appeared to play the Ivory Coast capped centre back onside. Kone later netted again from another corner that made ugly viewing from an Everton perspective.

Black Cats form comes through

While the appointment of Rafael Benitez by Newcastle sparked a mini-revival to give the Toon Army hope, the sacking of Steve McClaren came too late.

Sunderland v Everton - Barclays Premier League - Stadium of Light

Allardyce and his Mackems men have lost just one of their last 10 Premier League games – that being to champions Leicester City. Picking up 11 points from a possible maximum of 15 during the run-in also explains why he has kept them up.

Defoe’s key nose for goal and vital strikes has also proved the difference; he was desperately unlucky not to score in the second-half against Roberto Martinez’s men when chipping the keeper and seeing young Matthew Pennington clear his effort off the line.

That led to the corner from which Kone added his second and Sunderland’s third. Robles flapped an inswinging delivery, the ball ricocheted off Toffees defenders and the rebound was snapped up.

Defoe deal a belated masterstroke

Sunderland v Everton - Barclays Premier League - Stadium of Light

In signing Defoe the winter before last, the Black Cats and Big Sam had a proven Premier League striker on board. Meanwhile, their neighbours the Magpies have gambled heavily on foreign imports such as Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic – established Netherlands and Serbia internationals.

Controversial Newcastle owner Mike Ashley only added investment for best of British talent like Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend during the winter window. It appears the change of direction with regard to player recruitment may have come too late.

Victory over Everton for Sunderland also rendered the Canaries’ 4-2 win over Watford on Wednesday night irrelevant. Again, the marquee signing for Alex Neil at Carrow Road was Dieumerci Mbokani – a DR Congo international with no experience of English football.

Toffees turmoil may mean Martinez axe

Sunderland v Everton - Barclays Premier League - Stadium of Light

Big Sam was perhaps fortunate to have a home game against a Merseyside outfit that is destined for a mid-table finish and has kept a single clean sheet in 10 to leave Catalan coach Martinez clinging to his job.

This was another nonsensical defensive display for the Toffees, rigidly trying to play out from the back even when the hosting Black Cats were pressing high up the pitch. It took until the 94th minute for a visiting player to really test Vito Mannone.

Martinez’s staunch refusal to adopt more flexible football principals is now seen as a vice by fans and something for which he is likely to pay the price, with Coral quoting 1/4 on him not being Everton manager on the first day of next season.

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