Tim Howard, Lee Probert

Everton 0-1 Sunderland: Black Cats hang on after Howard’s red card (video)

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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.

(MORE: Boxing Day Roundup)

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.

(MORE: Latest Premier League Standings)

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)

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.