Premier League: Sunderland 1 Everton 0
By Football News
Sunderland ended a wretched English Premier League run against Everton with an impressive 1-0 victory at the Stadium of Light.
They had gone 17 league games without a win against David Moyes' side prior to their hard-earned win on Saturday in what was Paolo Di Canio's first home game in charge.
Stephane Sessegnon scored the only goal of the game with a firmly struck drive from 18 yards seconds before half-time, while Sebastian Larsson came close to beating Tim Howard with free-kicks on three occasions.
The win takes Sunderland six points clear of the relegation zone with four games remaining, while Everton remain sixth.
The home side controlled the game early on and Everton had the woodwork to thank for keeping the scores level in the 11th minute.
A free-kick from Larsson clipped the top of the crossbar after dipping as it flew towards Howard's goal.
The Swedish midfielder came close with well-struck free-kicks twice more in the first half, the second of which was kept out brilliantly by a clawing save from Howard.
After threatening for 45 minutes, Sunderland finally took the lead on the brink of half-time through Sessegnon.
It stemmed from a poor pass from Leighton Baines, who had been impressive prior to the goal, as the left-back played a wayward ball forward that fell straight to the feet of Larsson.
He quickly moved the ball on to Sessegnon, who drove at the heart of the Everton defence before blasting a low shot into the bottom corner.
Sunderland had the first chance after the break as Danny Rose sent a swerving shot wide after dispossessing Leon Osman 25 yards from goal.
Everton saw more of the ball as the second half wore on, and it was clear that the visitors were trying to exploit the aerial prowess of Nikica Jelavic.
Twice the Croatian beat John O'Shea in the air to meet crosses from the left, but on both occasions the striker's attempts were off target.
Larsson almost handed Everton a passage back into the game when he smashed a back pass to Simon Mignolet, leaving the goalkeeper with no option but to catch it with an empty net behind him.
Baines was teed up from the resulting indirect free-kick from 12 yards but his effort was blocked and the danger cleared.
And the hosts held on against a poor Everton side to take another step towards safety.