Everton are into the top four, although they needed a gift from Sunderland to get there. Meanwhile, the Black Cats’ season looks to be sunk, as they still sit seven points from safety.
It sure seemed that this match should have been an easy win for Everton, but the Toffees just couldn’t get behind Sunderland in the first half. In fact, their best effort came before fifteen minutes were out. Steven Naismith had a clear cut chance but put way too much power behind his effort, sending his shot over the bar when a simple tap in would’ve done it.
Early in the match, it looked as though Sunderland just might get something from their efforts. After a little twist and a shimmy, Fabio Borini managed to get a shot in, but it went over the bar. Just after, Adam Johnson got in behind Leighton Baines, forcing Sylvain Distin to cut out his cross.
Everton were nearly outdone by Borini once more in the 33rd minute. The Italian got the better of Tim Howard, beating the keeper to the ball to send in a shot. John Stones was there to save Howard’s blushes, hover, clearing the ball off the line and keeping the match scoreless.
The visitors started the second half brightly, with Gerard Deulofeu getting down the right to send in a low cross. Vito Mannone was quick to smother it, however. Sunderland responded with a header from Phil Bardsley, but no one was able to send in the rebound.
Everton began to apply real pressure, with Deulofeu going just wide, and Ross Barkley, on for Leon Osman, forcing a save from Mannone. Naismith, too, had another good chance, with Mannone caught out, but the shot was from a difficult angle and Naismith could only put it into the side netting.
After holding off Everton for much of the match – and getting in a few chances of their own – Sunderland’s eventual capitulation came in a heartbreaking manner. Deulofeu’s run once again found him in a bit of space, enough to get in a low cross. Wes Brown’s attempt to clear resulted in the Sunderland defender chesting the ball into the back of his own net.
Sunderland used the final fifteen minutes to try to force their way back into the match, knowing that this could be the end of their Premier League future. Ki Sung-Yueng had two goes in quick succession, but his first was straight at Howard, his second right over the bar. Borini put a shot just inches wide. Johnson had his shot saved in added time.
The hosts just could not break through, and Everton left with all three points.
Sunderland: Mannone, Bardsley, Alonso, O’Shea, Brown, Cattermole, Ki, Colback (Larsson 70), Johnson, Wickham, Borini
Subs: Larsson, Gardner, Cuellar, Vergini, Giaccherini, Scocco, Ustari
Everton: Howard, Coleman, Baines, Stones, Distin, McCarthy, Barry, Deulofeu (McGeady 78), Naismith, Osman (Barkley 58), Lukaku
Subs: Joel, Hibbert, McGeady, Mirallas, Barkley, Garbutt, Alcaraz
Goals: Brown o.g. 75′