Sunderland sink Everton, eye another great escape
Sunderland ground out a 2-0 win at Everton to climb out of the Premier League’s bottom three.
LONDON - Sunderland ground out a 2-0 win at Everton on Saturday to climb out of the Premier League's bottom three and apply heavy pressure to the teams fighting for survival around them.
Danny Graham put Sunderland ahead after 54 minutes when the striker was in the right place to deflect Jordi Gomez's shot past Tim Howard and record his first goal for the club he joined over two years ago.
Everton pushed for an equaliser but Sunderland made sure of the three points when Jermain Defoe turned in Adam Johnson's deflected shot with five minutes remaining.
Sunderland climbed to 14th on 36 points from 35 matches and have a game in hand on all the teams around them. Everton remained 11th with 44 points from 36 games.
"I'll take that. It's been a long time after a frustrating couple of years at the football club," Graham told BT Sport.
"The pressure is back on everyone else and we have done our job now."
Sunderland were deep in relegation trouble a year ago until they put together a run of four successive league wins to steer clear of danger but 12 months on they arrived at Goodison Park having not won away from home in the league this year.
Despite opting for a front three of Graham, Defoe and Connor Wickham, Sunderland showed little attacking intent in the first half and had goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon to thank for denying Romelu Lukaku and Leon Osman.
But the visitors snatched the lead at the start of the second half when Graham, who had not scored in his previous 27 Sunderland appearances, deflected Gomez's shot from the outside of the box past the outstretched Howard.
James McCarthy crashed a 25-metre strike against the post as Everton pegged Sunderland back in search of an equaliser but Defoe eased the tension when he pounced after Johnson's shot came back off defender Seamus Coleman.
Bottom side Burnley travel to Hull City later on Saturday needing three points and results to go their way to avoid relegation. Newcastle United host West Bromwich Albion trying to end an eight-game losing streak.