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Page last updated at 16:57 GMT, Sunday, 3 May 2009 17:57 UK

Sunderland 0-2 Everton

By Saj Chowdhury

Steven Pienaar
Pienaar was a class act at the Stadium of Light

Everton heaped more misery on struggling Sunderland with an easy win at the Stadium of Light.

Steven Pienaar gave the visitors the lead straight after the interval with a poked shot from close range after he had been played in by Jo.

The goalscorer then found Marouane Fellaini with a low pass that the midfielder converted from 12 yards.

The home side's best chance came from a Steed Malbranque cross that Tim Howard was forced to tip over.

With the Black Cats facing two tough trips to Bolton and Portsmouth followed by a final-day home fixture against Chelsea, three points against David Moyes's men was a must.

Unfortunately for the home support, it was often difficult to tell from their team's display whether this was a club desperate to avoid relegation or a mid-table side seeing out the season.

Ricky Sbragia's men, now with one league win in 10 and four points above the drop zone, showed little bite from the first whistle and against an energetic and gutsy Everton side, they were always on the back foot.

606: DEBATE

The home crowd that roared on their team during the first 10 minutes, fell flat for the rest of the match once they realised their team were not going to respond with a pulsating performance.

The Toffees, who leapfrog Aston Villa to take fifth spot, were marginally better during the opening period.

But most importantly they showed that they could get behind their opponents' defence.

First to exploit was Tim Cahill, who managed to fire in a low shot that fizzed wide of Marton Fulop's goal and then Jo fired wide from six yards.

Careless Sunderland frustrate Sbragia

Having tested Sunderland's weaknesses in defence, Everton tried their luck again after the restart and succeeded thanks to the Toffees' goal-shy midfield grafter, Pienaar.

The South African was brilliantly played in by Jo and fought off the challenge of the larger Phil Bardsley before poking in his second goal in 16 months.

Sunderland finally picked up the pace and should have equalised a few minutes later when Danny Collins' bullet header was saved by Howard.

It was as exciting as it got for the American keeper, who then jumped in delight as he watched Fellaini double the lead.

Moyes hails Pienaar contribution

The tall, permed Belgian, who covered a lot of grass during the match, was picked out by Pienaar's well-weighted pass from the right and calmly slotted past Fulop from 12 yards.

At that moment all hope appeared to be sucked out of the Sunderland team and supporters, who were only briefly brought back to life when Malbranque's pacy cross was tipped over the bar by Howard.


Sunderland boss Ricky Sbragia:
"Looking at the weekend's defeats for the struggling sides I thought we could step it up and achieve something.

"But we felt a bit of pressure - we were walking on eggshells."

Everton manager David Moyes:
"The FA Cup final is on the players' mind but they got a result today and we have given ourselves a real chance of making fifth.

"We're trying to keep focused on the league but it's difficult when you have a final coming up against Chelsea."


Sunderland: Fulop, Bardsley, Davenport, Ferdinand, Collins, Malbranque (Edwards 83), Whitehead, Leadbitter, Richardson, Cisse (Healy 63), Jones.
Subs Not Used: Colgan, Tainio, Ben-Haim, Murphy, McShane.

Booked: Davenport, Leadbitter, Bardsley.

Everton: Howard, Jacobsen (Rodwell 73), Lescott, Yobo, Baines, Gosling (Castillo 86), Neville, Fellaini, Pienaar, Cahill, Jo (Saha 80).
Subs Not Used: Nash, Vaughan, Agard, Wallace.

Booked: Pienaar, Cahill, Gosling, Saha.

Goals: Pienaar 48, Fellaini 71.

Att: 41,313

Ref: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).


BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Everton's Steven Pienaar (8.02 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
Premier League photos
03 May 09 |  Football
Premier League as it happened
03 May 09 |  Premier League


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