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BBC Sport's Peter Slater
reports from The Stadium of Light
 real 14k

Saturday, 23 December, 2000, 17:29 GMT
Sunderland defy City storm
Craddock and Thome watch a Goater shot go wide. Allsport.
Craddock and Thome watch a Goater shot go wide
Sunderland 1-0 Man City

Don Hutchison marked his return from injury with the goal which gave Sunderland their 50th league victory at the Stadium of Light.

But the home side had to weather intense City pressure in the second half as Joe Royle's men poured forward in search of an equaliser.

Hutchison justified manager Peter Reid's decision to play him up front in place of the suspended Kevin Phillips.

His sixth strike of the season came from a fiercely struck free kick on 19 minutes.

Scottish international midfielder Hutchison had himself been fouled on the edge of the visitors' area by Jeff Whitely.


They were pouring men forward and taking chances. They had us on the back foot and we couldn't kill them off. I think we rode our luck, to be perfectly honest, but I'm just very very thankful for the three points.
  Peter Reid
Goalkeeper Nicky Weaver, criticised after City's Worthington Cup defeat by Ipswich, was still organising his defensive wall when Hutchison stepped up.

Weaver redeemed himself in the 33rd minute with a fingertip save at full stretch to deny Niall Quinn.

Sunderland nearly buckled after the break as City came at them with a vengeance.

But they held on to extend their unbeaten home run in the Premiership to 11 matches.

Stranded

Sean Wright-Phillips went closest for the Blues, but his 80th minute header from Paul Dickov's cross hit the post with Sorensen stranded.

The second period had begun with Wright-Phillips sending a shot wide.

Sorensen also pulled off a good save from Dickov as he latched on to a mishit effort from Horlock.

Emerson Thome tackles Kevin Horlock. Allsport.
Thome tackles Horlock

Shaun Goater should have levelled on 55 minutes after Sorensen could only palm Danny Tiatto's shot into his path, but he could not get a touch.

A minute later, Emerson Thome was fortunate to see his clearance loop inches over the Sunderland bar.

Hutchison could have scored again shortly after the break but elected to try and find the unmarked Alex Rae instead of shooting and gifted the ball to to Weaver.

Juilo Arca earned himself a booking and handed the visitors a good opportunity on 67 minutes.

Referee David Elleray took his name for delaying a City free kick and advanced the ball 10 yards into the Sunderland area.

But Kevin Horlock could not beat the defensive wall.

Shuffle

City were hampered by two injuries in the first half, with Dickov replaced Mark Kennedy and Ian Bishop coming on for Whitely.


There are not many sides who will push Sunderland back the way we've done today. Whether it be a kiss from Lady Luck, or a post, or an incisive finish, we just haven't had it when we've needed it.
  Joe Royle
Goater went close on eight minutes as the home defence failed to deal with a long ball into the box.

But Sunderland had the better of the first half, and could have made it 2-0 a couple of minutes after Hutchison's goal.

McCann and Arca combined to give Michael Gray the chance to cross from the left.

But McCann, who had continued his run into the box, failed to connect with the goal at his mercy.

Weaver showed his quality 12 minutes later when a Steve Howey header fell to Quinn who controlled and volleyed from long range in one slick movement.

The Irishman could only look on in disbelief as Weaver managed to reach the ball while arching backwards.


Sunderland: Sorensen, Gray, Thome, Williams, Craddock, Arca, Rae, Hutchison, McCann, Kilbane, Quinn. Subs: Macho, Varga, Schwarz, Dichio, Makin.

Man City: Weaver, Dunne, Tiatto, Howey, Charvet, Horlock, Haaland, Whitley, Wright-Phillips, Goater, Kennedy. Subs: Dickov, Bishop, Granville, Prior, Wright.

Referee: D Elleray (Harrow-on-the-Hill)

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