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Sunderland beat 10-man Fulham 3-1 in soccer’s Premier League yesterday as the home side paid the price for defender Brede Hangeland’s red card.
Steven Fletcher, Carlos Cuellar and Stephane Sessegnon scored for Sunderland, Mladen Petric getting the home team’s goal. Norwegian defender Hangeland, Fulham’s captain, was dismissed by referee Lee Probert in the 31st minute for a two- footed challenge on Lee Cattermole.
Its second league win of the season moves Sunderland up one place to 15th, on 12 points. Fulham stays ninth with 16.
“It was a big, big effort by the team. After the sending- off we tried to stretch them and keep a bit of width about ourselves,” Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill told Sky Sports. “Naturally a sending-off changes the course of a match but you still have to break the team down and we scored some great goals in doing so.”
Even after going down to 10 men, Fulham created chances. Dimitar Berbatov shot straight at goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, then the Bulgarian slotted the ball past the far post just before half-time.
John Arne Riise’s shot was deflected on the Sunderland bar four minutes after the break, yet within seconds the visitors were ahead. Fletcher scored his sixth goal of the season after being played in by Adam Johnson.
Petric made it 1-1 in the 62nd minute, converting a cross by Damien Duff. Almost immediately Cuellar headed in from a corner to put Sunderland back in front while Petric was off the field getting medical attention. Sessegnon made it 3-1 with a swerving right-foot shot from outside the penalty area after 70 minutes.
Fulham battled back into the game. Steve Sidwell and Petric had chances to score but were blocked by Mignolet.
Before yesterday, Sunderland’s goal tally was the lowest in the league. It was the team’s first away win from seven games this season.
“Everything was against us,” Fulham manager Martin Jol said. “Maybe it should have been a yellow card” for Hangeland. “By the letter of the law it was a red card but I thought it was a bit harsh.”
Two days ago, defending champion Manchester City overtook Manchester United to take a one-point lead at the top. City beat Aston Villa 5-0 while United was upset 1-0 at Norwich.
City has 28 points, United 27, Chelsea 24 and West Brom 23.
In other games two days ago, Chelsea lost 2-1 at West Brom, Arsenal beat Tottenham 5-2, Liverpool defeated Wigan 3-0, Swansea won 2-1 at Newcastle, and Reading got its first league win, 2-1 over Everton, and is out of the relegation zone.
Winless bottom club Queens Park Rangers lost 3-1 at home to Southampton and has four points, four adrift of the Saints. Third from bottom Aston Villa is on nine points.
West Ham hosts Stoke tonight.
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