Sunderland ease relegation worries

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iol spt apr27 Sunderland-Cardiff Reuters Sunderland climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone with a 4-0 win at home to 10-man fellow strugglers Cardiff. Photo by: Nigel Roddis/Reuters

Sunderland climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone with a 4-0 win at home to 10-man fellow strugglers Cardiff.

Connor Wickham headed north-east side Sunderland, who kicked off bottom of the table, into a 26th-minute lead at the Stadium of Light but the match turned decisively in favour of the home side on the stroke of half-time.

Wickham burst clear and was bearing down on goal when his shirt was tugged by Cardiff centre-back Juan Cala, whose poor back-pass had let him in.

Phil Dowd played an initial advantage but when Wickham, who had stayed on his feet and not gone down, was forced wide and saw his cross blocked, the referee blew for a penalty and sent off Cala.

Fabio Borini, as he'd done in Sunderland's shock win over Chelsea, scored from the spot and the Black Cats were 2-0 up at the break.

Emanuele Giaccherini put the result beyond doubt by making it 3-0 in the 76th minute before Wickham headed in his second goal four minutes from time.

Sunderland's victory saw Gus Poyet's side move above Norwich, who dropped into the relegation zone on goal difference, with a game in hand on the teams around them at the foot of the table.

Sunday's other English top-flight matches could have a huge bearing on the outcome of the title race.

At Anfield, leaders Liverpool face second-placed Chelsea knowing victory could see them go eight points clear of Jose Mourinho's men with two games to play as they seek to become English champions for the first time since 1990.

But third-placed Manchester City, who have a game in hand, will look to maintain the pressure on the top two away to south London side Crystal Palace in the third of Sunday's Premier League matches.

Saturday saw Ryan Giggs launch his reign as interim Manchester United following the sacking of David Moyes with a 4-0 thrashing of strugglers Norwich at Old Trafford, Wayne Rooney and substitute Juan Mata scoring two goals apiece.

Everton missed the chance to go above Arsenal in the race for fourth position, and a place in next season's Champions League, after two own-goals condemned them to a 2-0 loss at Southampton.

Arsenal will move four points in front of Everton with two games to play if they beat Newcastle at the Emirates Stadium on Monday. – AFP

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