Poyet's escape mission gets major boost
Everton 0 Sunderland 1
Christmas is usually a time when you can catch 'The Great Escape' on some satellite channel and Sunderland's might just start here.
The odds are still against them. Only three members of Richard Attenborough's party made it across the German frontiers and only one team, West Brom in 2004, have been bottom at Christmas and survived. This was an afternoon on which every team in the relegation zone won but on Wearside they will feel differently about the new year.
Everton were Sunderland's great hoodoo team and very few making the journey to Merseyside would have contemplated a win against a side that had not lost at Goodison Park for 363 days. "Three points is the best present you can give me," said Gus Poyet, who since inheriting the chaos left behind by Paolo di Canio has engineered victories over Newcastle, Manchester City, Chelsea, in the League Cup quarter-final, and now Everton. But he has been unable to oversee a win against the teams around him.
"I have no explanation for that," he said. "We cannot blame anybody but ourselves for that. Against the teams we have to beat, we always do something wrong -- we get players sent off, we defend badly, their 'keeper is man of the match. We have to change that if we are to stay up. There can be no more excuses."
Poyet remarked that he preferred games that were "not decided by accidents". This was a case in point, only this time the accident was Everton's and it proved fatal.
'Keeper Tim Howard took a while to choose where to place his goal-kick and for some reason passed to Leon Osman, who had Ki Sung-yueng bearing down on him. Osman almost trod on the ball, slipped and Howard suddenly found Ki taking the ball past him and took his feet from underneath him.
Osman was immediately substituted, Howard was dismissed. Ki made no mistake with the penalty.
The key figure was Vito Mannone, who palmed away a shot at full stretch from Bryan Oviedo and then denied Ross Barkley, while Fabio Borini also cleared off the line. (© Independent News Service)