Saturday 25 February 2017

Larsson pounces to pile misery on Sunderland

Birmingham City 2 Sunderland 0

Georgina Turner at St Andrew's

Sunderland's search for a win goes on, despite creating twice as many chances as their hosts and controlling long spells of the match.



Beforehand, Steve Bruce had called on his side to rediscover their cutting edge, while the Birmingham manager, Alex McLeish, had demanded more of the "defensive heroics" that had comfortably preserved his team's top-flight status last season. Only one could be granted his wish and it was not Bruce.

Birmingham took the lead shortly before half-time, when Cameron Jerome nodded on Ben Foster's long kick for Sebastian Larsson to chase in the company of Phil Bardsley. The Sunderland goalkeeper, Simon Mignolet, came off his line but hesitated, and the ball was prodded beyond him. The goal was credited to Larsson, then Bardsley, before being given back to Larsson to mark his 100th Premier League appearance.

In the 66th minute Birmingham doubled their lead through Craig Gardner, whose swerving left-footed shot from just outside the area beat Mignolet low to his right.

The goals bookended a spell in which Sunderland seemed to be building towards an inevitable equaliser, but that was prevented by a combination of miscues and Foster's gloves.

Five minutes into the second half Jordan Henderson rifled a shot into the side netting. He was Sunderland's most creative player, and had Danny Welbeck's forehead or Stephane Sessegnon's foot connected with his cross in the 64th minute, the points might have been shared.

The win means Birmingham leapfrog Sunderland -- who have now lost eight of their past nine matches -- into 14th place.

Observer

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