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Fulham 1-3 Sunderland Premiership Matchday 12 1213 The Sun

last updated Tuesday 20th November 2012, 3:41 PM


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Andrew Dillon at SunSport


Fulham (0) 1 Sunderland (0) 3


Maybe that's a bit harsh but any kind of victory, let alone one on the road, is a pretty rare event for the Mackems at the moment.

And one well worth celebrating.

Goals from Steven Fletcher, Carlos Cuellar and a belter from Stephane Sessegnon sealed a memorable day for them at Craven Cottage.

But the real man-of-the-match for Sunderland was Fulham midfielder Giorgos Karagounis.

His terribly under-hit back pass to Brede Hangeland after just half an hour forced his skipper to make a rash, dangerous, studs-up challenge on Lee Cattermole that earned him the first sending off of his career.

Honest Hangeland later went into the referee's room and apologised for the tackle.

Overworked Fulham eventually succumbed to the numerical disadvantage while Sunderland could not believe their luck.

Karagounis could not have wrapped it up better for them had he been fat and wearing a big red fluffy suit.

It was February 4 when Sunderland last won an away match.

John Terry was still England captain and beer was 50p per pint.

It probably still is in the North-East.

The sense of relief was tangible throughout the Sunderland camp when ref Lee Probert blew the final whistle.

Cuellar gave his shirt away to a gushing female fan and there were hugs and back slaps all round.

Hangeland's sending off was a huge factor in the match.

Losing a towering presence right at the heart of defence so early on was a devastating blow for Fulham and a massive plus for Sunderland.

Martin O'Neill's men did their best to throw it all away, of course, as they allowed Fulham to equalise Fletcher's opener and it is a stretch to say they would have won had it been 11 v 11.

Even Sunderland's honest boss admitted his team got 'sloppy' because they have got out of the winning habit and even with an extra man they struggled to close out the match.

O'Neill is now desperate for his team to build on the little gift they received from Fulham.

They now have back-to-back home games against in-form West Brom and then bottom club QPR who, by that time, may have a new manager at the helm with the galvanisation of a team that tends to bring.

But, for today, O'Neill can bask in a slither of glory while plotting to tap into the psychological boost a win on the turf of one of the Premier League's most impressive home teams brings.

Three goals in 20 minutes suggests Sunderland went for the jugular and killed it off in a ruthless display of finishing.

Not quite.

For Fulham's John Arne Riise had smacked a deflected shot against the bar just moments before it all turned O'Neill's way on 50 minutes.

The ball rebounded clear to Adam Johnson on the left wing.

His beautifully-weighted pass found Fletcher prowling on the opposite flank.

The curve of the pass caught Philippe Senderos off guard and Fletch dragged a shot across goal and in off the post.

You have to wonder whether the more visionary Hangeland would have been beaten as easily as his replacement Senderos.

Thirteen minutes later sub Mladen Petric pulled Fulham level.

Riise played a ball into Hugo Rodallega on the edge of the box.

He then found Damien Duff.

The Irishman's cut-back was perfect for Petric to slam in the leveller from five yards.

Johnson won a corner from a dribble down the left.

He then delivered a perfect drop ball for Cuellar to rise above the defence and head home to restore the lead from which Sunderland never looked back.

At the time Fulham were down to nine men with Petric off the field having treatment on a gashed leg.

And with 20 minutes left on the clock Sessegnon saved the best until last as Fletcher teed him up for a wonder goal.

Collecting the ball with his back to goal, the skilful Frenchman rolled neatly to turn and face Mark Schwarzer, take one look up and unleash a curling shot into the top corner from 25 yards.

Even two goals to the good, Sunderland needed to rely on keeper Simon Mignolet to make a string of saves to keep it that way.

Twice he foiled Sidwell and Petric one on one as the Black Cats did enough to hang on.

STAR MAN - JOHNSON (SUNDERLAND)

Fulham: Schwarzer 7, Riether 6, Hangeland 4, Hughes 6, Riise 6, Duff 7, Karagounis 6 (Senderos 6), Sidwell 5, Kacaniklic 7 (Rodallega 6), Ruiz 6 (Petric 7), Berbatov 7.
Subs not used: Stockdale, Kelly, Dejagah, Smith.

Sent off: Hangeland.

Booked: Sidwell.

Sunderland: Mignolet 8, Bardsley 6, Cuellar 5, O'Shea 6, Rose 7, Johnson 9, Cattermole 7, Colback 6 (Vaughan 6), Larsson 6 (McClean 6),Sessegnon 8, Fletcher 7.
Subs Not Used: Westwood, Campbell, Wickham, Kilgallon, Saha.

Booked: Johnson, O'Shea, Cattermole.

REF: L Probert 6



















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