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Page last updated at 21:41 GMT, Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Stoke 1-0 Sunderland

By Aimee Lewis

Ricardo Fuller
Fuller scored his fourth Premier League goal of the season

A Ricardo Fuller header ensured Stoke beat a below-par Sunderland to move out of the Premier League relegation zone.

Fuller came close to giving Stoke a first-half lead, but Anton Ferdinand cleared from near his goal-line.

The lively Jamaican got the winner when he leapt above Sunderland's defence to head home Rory Delap's throw-in from six yards after 76 minutes.

And Fuller could easily gave doubled the score, but the striker hit the post when put through by Michael Tonge.

Sunderland boss Roy Keane had warned that any player showing signs of complacency after the victory over Newcastle on Saturday should stay away from the Britannia Stadium and watch soap operas instead.

Pulis hails best display of season so far

Those Black Cats players who were on the pitch were perhaps wishing they had remained at home and caught up on Coronation Street as they were out-muscled by a Stoke side who should have scored more.

Stoke, now two points above third-from-bottom Wigan, next face Arsenal at home and on this form Delap and Stoke's towering forwards will give the Gunners some food for thought.

Delap's catapult throw-ins predictably caused problems and the Black Cats gave their former player far too many opportunities to launch from the sidelines.

The first half belonged to the home team, with Tony Pulis's side bombarding the Sunderland half with long balls and crosses for Mamady Sidibe to flick on to strike partner Fuller.

Keane admits poor display

Indeed, the energetic Fuller had the best chance of the half when Sidibe headed on a Delap long-throw, he tried to poke into the net only for the alert Ferdinand to save Sunderland's blushes.

In the 20th minute, Seyi Olofinjana's drive from the edge of the box needed Marton Fulop to strain every sinew to get down low to his right.

Sunderland were sloppy in possession, epitomised by Dean Whitehead when, under no pressure, the midfielder gave the ball away cheaply in his own half.

The visitors, reduced to half chances in the first 45 minutes, the best of which was a wayward Djibril Cisse header, brought on striker Kenwyne Jones for the start of the second half to work alongside Cisse and El-Hadji Diouf in a 4-3-3 formation.

However, Stoke continued to dominate and were inches from taking the lead when a Fuller shot ricocheted off Phil Bardsley and bounced away across goal to safety.

Keane made a further change, bringing on Michael Chopra for Cisse, but it made little difference as Stoke took the lead with Fuller scoring his fourth league goal of the season.


The striker then hit the post when a delightful reverse pass from substitute Tonge put him through on goal.

Jones, making his second first-team appearance in four months, forced Thomas Sorensen into a fine save with a low shot to the corner as Sunderland pushed forward in the closing stages.

But, despite Sunderland's reputation for scoring late goals this season, there was to be no last-minute heroics.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis said:
"I think that is probably the best we have played this season for 90 minutes.

"We have had good spells but I don't think we have played as consistently through a game and I felt we really deserved to win.

"I thought the lads kept going and the tempo throughout was very good.

"I can't single anyone out. There was a good togetherness and we played well as a group and as a team and moved up and down the pitch collectively."

Sunderland manager Roy Keane:
"Losing at home to Manchester City 3-0 was bad, but this was probably worse.

"We didn't do enough to get anything out of that game. The passing was missing. The movement was missing. Their keeper had just one save to make.

"You have to earn the right to win a game of football and we didn't do that. We started sloppy. This was our worst performance of the season."

Stoke: Sorensen, Griffin, Abdoulaye Faye, Shawcross, Higginbotham, Soares (Tonge 69), Olofinjana (Amdy Faye 87), Diao, Delap, Sidibe, Fuller (Kitson 90).
Subs Not Used: Simonsen, Pericard, Wilkinson, Sonko.

Booked: Abdoulaye Faye, Griffin.

Goals: Fuller 73.

Sunderland: Fulop, Bardsley, Ferdinand, Collins, McCartney, Malbranque (Reid 75), Whitehead, Yorke (Jones 46), Richardson, Diouf, Cisse (Chopra 62).
Subs Not Used: Colgan, Tainio, Nosworthy, Leadbitter.

Booked: Malbranque.

Att: 26,731

Ref: Chris Foy (Merseyside).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Sunerland's Kieran Richardson 8.22 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Wednesday's football photos
29 Oct 08 |  Football
Live text - Premier League
29 Oct 08 |  Premier League

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