Monday, 20 December 2010

Sunderland 1 Bolton 0

Danny Welbeck scored the winner as Sunderland leapfrogged Bolton into sixth place with a hard-earned win.
Welbeck headed home his fifth goal in six games after Jussi Jaaskelainen had denied a Darren Bent shot.
Sunderland keeper Craig Gordon produced a remarkable one-handed save to deny Zat Knight a close-range equaliser.
Welbeck also struck the outside of the post for the home side, while Bolton threatened late on through Gary Cahill and substitute Ivan Klasnic.
Bolton started and finished the stronger of the two sides, with Klasnic in particular guilty of spurning two chances in the dying stages. A draw would have seen Bolton move above Tottenham into fifth, but an inability to keep a clean sheet in the league stretching back to the opening day of the season again proved costly.
They were denied early on when a Kevin Davies shot hit team-mate Johan Elmander after good work down the left by Matt Taylor.
On the opposite flank, Kieran Richardson created Sunderland's first real opening, bursting into the area and beating Knight, only for Cahill to rescue the Trotters with a last-ditch tackle.
For the second week running, Sunderland boss Steve Bruce was forced into an early defensive reshuffle as John Mensah limped off and Ahmed Elmohamady was again asked to fill in at right-back.
With Anton Ferdinand only passing a late fitness test before the game, the one worry for Bruce will be his rapidly-eroding resources going into a busy Christmas period.
Skipper Lee Cattermole will miss their Boxing Day trip to Old Trafford after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season for a lunge on Stuart Holden.
Cattermole was fortunate to remain on the field when he later caught Elmander with a late tackle early in the second half
The challenge led to an already overheating Bruce - unhappy with some heavy Bolton challenges - and opposite number Owen Coyle exchanging some less-than-festive words on the touchline.
By then Sunderland had taken the lead through the increasingly influential Welbeck.
The on-loan forward's contribution has been a key reason for the recent resurgence of a Sunderland side previously over-reliant on Bent and Asamoah Gyan for its goals.
Jordan Henderson's cross looked to have been overhit, but Bent stretched out a leg and brilliantly controlled the ball before firing in a shot that Jaaskelainen kept out one-handed, only for Welbeck to head in the rebound.
It came at the end of a promising five-minute spell for Sunderland that saw Gyan denied by a combination of Cahill and Jaaskelainen after he had outfoxed Knight.
But going into the break, Bolton will have considered themselves hugely unfortunate not to be level with Knight denied by a stunning piece of goalkeeping by the recalled Gordon.
Cahill was left unmarked at the back post to head back a Taylor corner into the feet of Knight, but Gordon showed stunning reactions to tip over the bar the defender's side-footed effort from less than five yards out.
Bolton applied plenty of pressure after the break but Sunderland's makeshift back four ably kept Elmander and Davies under wraps and restricted the strike pair - with a combined 14 league goals this season - to only limited sightings on goal.
Welbeck could have made the points safe when Bent miscued in front of goal and his measured side-footed shot sliced the outside of the post.
Klasnic and Cahill were both denied late on, while Sunderland's Bolo Zenden headed wide in a flurry of late chances.
A third consecutive clean sheet for Sunderland, who remain unbeaten at home, sees them go into Christmas with increasing hopes of a European place.

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