Steve Bruce's side remains in bottom-half of the table after a dominant defeat to Fulham.Sunderland's hopes for a top-ten finish were diminished after a solid 3-0 victory for Fulham at the Stadium of Light, with Simon Davies getting two for the visitors and Gael Kakuta scoring his first senior goal.
A heated opening 25-minutes saw neither side take any real control in the game. However, the first-half calmed down enough to offer the first goal, with Gael Kakuta putting Fulham ahead with his first senior strike. Sunderland was by no means playing poorly and had its own chances, with Sulley Muntari going the closest of his teammates after his effort just cleared the Fulham bar.
However, the second-half saw Sunderland resigned to defeat after Simon Davies picked up two more goals for Fulham, leaving the west London side able to coast to the final whistle. Steve Bruce’s side struggled throughout to gain any real possession and allowed the visitors to control the game.
With a striker injury crisis on Wearside, the Black Cats were forced to place attacking midfielder Stephene Sessegnon up front alone. Meanwhile, Anton Ferdinand and John Mensah were not fit enough to begin the game and started on the bench. Philippe Senderos on the other hand had recovered from his Achilles injury and used this game to make his Fulham debut. Damien Duff, Clint Dempsey, Brede Hangeland and Moussa Dembele all missed out for Fulham, wih Dembele the only in the subs list.
A very bright attitude towards a fairly meaningless game shone through as the players fought it out in the middle of the park to get a hold on possession, with Sunderland getting the early success and making the most of it with a flurry of corners in the first 20 minutes.
However, chances were far from abundant and dogged defending from both outfits prevailed over the attacking nature of the teams.
Steed Malbranque did go closest of the teams in the first 30 minutes after Swiss defender Senderos gave it away to the former Fulham man in his own half and the midfielder used his momentum to outpace the defender and get a shot off just inside the area only to drag it wide.
Fulham made the most of its chances. A long ball deep into the Sunderland half found Bobby Zamora, who managed to bring the ball down in superb fashion for Eider Gudjohnsen, enabling the Icelandic attacker to play the one-two with Zamora who played a low ball across goal for Kakuta to toe-poke past Simon Mignolet.
Just minutes later, Sunderland may well have equalized through Muntari, but the loanee from Inter Milan just couldn’t keep his effort down from the edge of the area, much to the relief of Mark Schwarzer who was possibly beaten. Fulham ended the half still in the lead.
Sessegnon grabbed the first chance after the restart after an untouched goal-kick from Mignolet found the make-shift striker on the edge of the Fulham area and in space, leaving the Beninese man with all the encouragement to shoot. However, the lack of power on the effort made for a comfortable diving save for Schwazer.
Fulham could very well have doubled its lead through Zamora on 54 minutes. Gudjohnsen gracefully took down a cross from Davies and from the angle on the right sent a pile-driver of a shot towards the far corner and a sliding Zamora came to within inches of putting the ball into the back of the net.
The Fulham support didn't have to wait long for what was an inevitable second goal. A fluid phase of football from the London side saw Steve Sidwell burst down the left-side of the Sunderland box and cut the ball back towards the penalty spot for Davies to place his right-foot through the ball to send it smashing against the corner of the net.
Just 10-minutes later it was three to Fulham, thanks to Davies’ second of the day. A charging run down the right from Zamora enabled the striker to look up and feed his midfield teammate a low ball across goal. After Mignolet and Michael Turner collided, Davies, with pressure from Ahmed Elmohamady, was able to get the slightest of touches to put the result beyond doubt.
Resigned to defeat after the second goal, Sunderland finished the game with very little spirit, letting Fulham walk away as comforable winners.