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Played
December 22, 2012 10:00 AM EST
St. Mary's Stadium — Southampton, Hampshire
Referee:‬ H. Webb‎
Attendance:‬ 31275‎
 
 
Top of the Match
Stéphane Sessegnon
Stéphane Sessegnon
Sunderland
Steven Fletcher
Steven Fletcher
Sunderland
Flop of the Match
Jason Puncheon
Jason Puncheon
Southampton
James McClean
James McClean
Sunderland

Southampton 0-1 Sunderland: Fletcher fires O'Neill's strugglers to three points

The Scot opened the scoring late in the first period, after Stephane Sessegnon's sliced effort fell right at his feet, and Saints were left without any answers in the second

By John Stammers at St Mary's Stadium

SOUTHAMPTON, England -- Steven Fletcher ended Sunderland's dismal run of away form to record all three points against Southampton on Saturday, giving the club some breathing space from the Premier League relegation zone.

In what was a huge game at the lower end of the table, both teams took a while to get going, aside from a splendid early effort from Stephane Sessegnon. The visitors took the lead through a fortunate Fletcher goal just before the break, and held on after it to secure three huge points.

Nigel Adkins made two changes from their last league match, Gaston Ramirez and Emmanuel Mayuka replacing injured Adam Lallana and dropped Jay Rodriguez. Martin O'Neill made just the one change, Titus Bramble making way for Danny Rose with Steven Fletcher fit to start.

Sessegnon nearly opened the scoring with just seconds gone in the game, but his powerful long-range effort was tipped expertly wide by Kelvin Davis.

The action was a lot less frequent thereafter, though. Jason Puncheon wasted a decent Saints opening when he missed the ball completely, before Rickie Lambert's free-kick was deflected just wide. Meanwhile, Sebastian Larsson forced a much more straight forward save from Davis, after neat work with Adam Johnson.

With just over half of the first period elapsed, Ramirez began to pull some strings in the hosts' midfield. The Uruguayan firstly forced Simon Mignolet to parry away hastily, before firing just over with another vicious left-footed effort.

It was O'Neill's side that opened the scoring just before the half-time break, though. Johnson delivered a dangerous low cross from the left, which intended target Sessegnon sliced horribly. However, fortunately for the visitors, it fell to Fletcher's feet and the Scot had no trouble tucking it away.

The second half started with a decent chance - Lambert shooting just over for Saints - however it was, again, uninspiring from both teams. Half chances saw Johnson blaze over for the visors and Jose Fonte's header deflect wide for Adkins men, but there was little cutting edge.

Things got scrappy as the half proceeded, Johnson being forced off after receiving a tough tackle and other small fouls breaking up play, with both sides' forwards feeding on scraps, too.

Sunderland, however, didn't mind one bit and held on to a crucial victory that pushes them further away from the drop-zone, while condemning Saints to the opposite, despite late chances for Ramirez and Guly do Prado going close and keeper Davis venturing forward for one last corner.


Southampton

1
Kelvin Davis
Goalkeeper
3.00
2
Nathaniel Clyne
Defender
2.00
3
Maya Yoshida
Defender
2.50
6
2.50
23
Luke Shaw
Defender
2.50
4
3.00
10
G. Ramírez
Striker
3.50
18
Jack Cork
Defender
3.00
13
Jason Puncheon
Midfielder
81′
1.50
7
2.50
24
2.50

Sunderland

3.00
22
Simon Mignolet
Goalkeeper
3.50
16
John O'Shea
Defender
3.50
24
3.50
3
Danny Rose
Midfielder
2.50
7
3.00
8
Craig Gardner
Midfielder
3.00
14
Jack Colback
Midfielder
3.50
11
Adam Johnson
Midfielder
68′ 75′
2.50
-
James McClean
Midfielder
3.50
28
3.00
9

Substitutes

31
Artur Boruc
Goalkeeper
 - 
2
 - 
26
 - 
8
Steven Davis
Midfielder
60′
2.50
21
2.50
9
 - 
33
3.00

Substitutes

 - 
20
2.50
2
 - 
19
 - 
-
David Vaughan
Midfielder
89′
3.00
10
 - 
10
 - 
16

Coach/Manager

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Coach/Manager

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Results
 
Top Scorers
Player   Goals Penalties
Luis Suárez Luis Suárez
Striker
Liverpool
30 0
Daniel Sturridge Daniel Sturridge
Striker
Liverpool
20 0
Yaya Touré Yaya Touré
Midfielder
Man City
18 6
Sergio Agüero Sergio Agüero
Striker
Man City
16 0
Wayne Rooney Wayne Rooney
Striker
Man United
15 2