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Tuesday, 29 January, 2002, 23:41 GMT
Boro tame Black Cats
Sunderland's Thomas Sorensen and Noel Whelan of Middlesbrough
Thomas Sorensen watches Noel Whelan score
Sunderland 0-1 Middlesbrough
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Middlesbrough survived the second-half dismissal of Gianluca Festa to beat Sunderland and come away from the Stadium of Light with three precious points.

Noel Whelan's 14th minute goal - his fifth in eight games - proved enough to decide this derby watched by a crowd of nearly 45,000.

The win moved Middlesbrough up to 14th place, two points clear of the relegation zone.

  Match facts
14 mins: Noel Whelan gives Middlesbrough the lead
52 mins: Middlesbrough's Gianluca Festa is red-carded for spitting

Steve McClaren's side were once again impressive defensively, and even more so after Festa was dismissed for spitting just after the restart.

Referee Paul Durkin called the Italian and Kevin Phillips together after a tussle and Festa appeared to spit at the striker and was immediately dismissed.

Sunderland themselves must now be looking nervously over their shoulders at the teams below them in the table.

This defeat leaves them just four points above Ipswich, who are the third-from-bottom club.

A miserable 90 minutes for Peter Reid was only compounded by the fact that Boro's goal came from, of all things, a Sunderland free-kick.

I'm too angry to even discuss the sending-off - it's diabolical, totally unprofessional
Steve McClaren
Middlesbrough manager
Jonathan Greening had been penalised for a foul on Phillips 25 yards out, but Stefan Schwarz blasted his effort into Phil Stamp.

The Middlesbrough midfielder raced away before floating a cross over Michael Gray's head for Noel Whelan to slot past Thomas Sorensen.

The goal came very much against the run of play with Middlesbrough penned in their own half by a Sunderland team eager to revive their faltering season.

Crossley had had to rush from his box on 11 minutes to chest the ball away from Kevin Kilbane.

And soon after Whelan's goal the Boro goalkeeper had to make a superb save to deny Claudio Reyna.

Crossley was ably assisted by Middlesbrough's central defensive trio of Gareth Southgate, Festa and Jason Gavin.

When you aren't going so well, you're going to get a bit of stick
Peter Reid
Sunderland manager
And it was Gavin's fine covering header that denied Quinn a clear header on goal with 24 minutes gone.

Just before half-time Greening found Whelan down the right, but he dragged a shot across goal under pressure from Jody Craddock.

After the restart Sunderland went on to the offensive and Gavin hacked clear after Quinn had flicked on a long Haas throw.

Boro were put under even more pressure after Festa's dismissal.

And Sunderland were almost back on terms when Phillips found space inside the penalty area to stab a shot past Crossley, only to see Franck Queudrue clear.

Sunderland: Sorensen, Gray, Haas (Bellion 81), Craddock, Varga, Kilbane, Schwarz, Reyna, McAteer (Arca 69), Quinn, Phillips.
Subs Not Used: Macho, Williams, McCartney.

Middlesbrough: Crossley, Queudrue, Southgate, Gavin, Festa, Stockdale, Greening, Ince, Stamp (Mustoe 72), Windass (Gordon 55), Whelan (Campbell 82).
Subs Not Used: Beresford, Marinelli.

Sent Off: Festa (52).

Booked: Greening, Whelan.

Attendance: 44,579.

Referee: P Durkin (Dorset).

BBC Sport's Peter Slater
"Boro were hardly threatened"
Boro boss Steve McLaren
"It was a massive win"
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.


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