Bottom club Sunderland pulled off a huge shock at Goodison Park on Boxing Day, as the Black Cats handed Everton their first home defeat of 2013.
Gus Poyet’s men had the Toffees to thank for grabbing all three points as USMNT ‘keeper was red carded after bringing down Ki Sung-Yueng in the box after Leon Osman was caught in possession.
Ki stepped up and dispatched the decisive spot kick to give Sunderland a 1-0 lead that they hung on to for dear life.
The Mackems had ‘keeper Vito Mannone to thank for their magnificent away win, as the former Arsenal goalkeeper made a string of fine saves to stop the Toffees who put on a brave showing with 10-men. For most of the second half it was all Everton but Bryan Oviedo, Ross Barkley, Phil Jagielka and Romelu Lukaku were all thwarted by Mannone’s heroics.
With the vital three points, Sunderland still remain bottom but are now just three points off safety. As for Everton, the defeat sees them stay in fifth.
The Toffees started on the front foot as Oviedo struck a fierce effort on goal that Mannone saved. Then the game changing moment arrived…
In the 23rd minute disaster struck as Howard was sent off as he played a short ball to Osman on the edge of his own box from a goal kick. Osman was caught in possession by Sunderland’s Ki, and as the South Korean ran in on goal Howard brought him down and was handed a straight-red card by referee Lee Probert.
Joel Robles then replaced Osman, as the Spanish ‘keepers first act was to face Ki’s penalty but the Sunderland man stroked the ball just past Robles’ outstretched right hand to put the Black Cats up 1-0.
Everton had dug themselves a massive whole to get out of, as Sunderland sat back and soaked up the pressure easily for the remainder of the first half.
After the break, Sunderland should have scored in the 48th minute as a ball from the left was knocked down and Modibo Diakite hit his shot over the bar with the goal beckoning.
To Everton’s credit despite being down a man they kept pressing for an equalizer and created plenty of opportunities from set pieces. Jagielka and Lukaku forced Mannone into a magnificent double stop in the 55th minute, as the Toffees spirit shone through.
Barkley came off the bench and made an impact as his long-range effort was palmed away by Mannone as Everton looked the more likely to score throughout the second half. Sunderland’s goalkeeper Mannone was fast becoming man of the match as he pulled off a terrific sprawling stop from Oviedo’s powerful effort that was arrowing towards the top corner.
After all of Everton’s pressure Fletcher was put clean through but he dallied on the ball and the chance came and went.
However the Everton surge continued as Barkely smashed a free kick towards the top corner that Mannone saved brilliantly, then from the following corner Sunderland cleared off the line and Lukaku hit the post late on.
Somehow Sunderland survived to pick up a crucial victory.
Everton: Howard, Jagielka, Distin, Oviedo, Coleman, Mirallas (Barkley, 45) , McCarthy, Barry, Osman (Robles, 24), Pienaar (Jelavic, 76), Lukaku
Sunderland: Mannone, Celustka, Bardsley, Diakite, Roberge, Cattermole, Ki, Colback (Giaccherini, 70), Larsson, Borini, Fletcher (Altidore, 87)
Goal: Ki (25)