Sebastian Larsson

Sunderland 0-3 Man United: Red Devils down 10-man Black Cats

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It was smooth, it was comprehensive, and it was decisive. Before and after Seb Larsson’s 43rd minute sending off, Manchester United was the better side as they cruised to a 3-0 win at the Stadium of Light, keeping their Champions League hopes alive.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic started things off a half-hour into the game, and from there it was done and dusted, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford deepening the wound for the Sunderland fans.

The home side had little to offer in the early going, and Manchester United took advantage, controlling the pace of the game and the attacking flow. Zlatan Ibrahimovic had an early chance on a free-kick from just outside the area but he couldn’t direct the close-range effort around the wall.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Manchester United got a bit foul-happy, and it lifted the Black Cats to a spell of possession, as Victor Anichebe and Jermain Defoe both just worked half-chances, with the former off-target and the latter offside. Sunderland would rue those misses, as Manchester United would soon go in front. Just past the half-hour mark, Ibrahimovic produced a moment of brilliance as, with his back to both goal and a double-team, he still managed to find space to turn and shoot, rifling a shot low into the bottom corner for a 1-0 lead.

The visitors had a shot for another minutes later as Zlatan fed Luke Shaw making a run down the left. The young wing-back fed Marouane Fellaini on the penalty spot, but under heavy pressure from Bryan Ovideo, his shot was blocked and then smothered by Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. Seconds later, Oviedo pulled up with a hamstring injury, signaling for a substitution and manager David Moyes was required to oblige.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

It would get worse for the hosts, as just before halftime, Seb Larsson was given a straight red card for going over a tackle, with his studs finding the shin of Ander Herrera, who was lucky to escape unscathed. That left Sunderland a man down, and sealed things for a team increasingly likely to find the drop.

Larsson was furious, taking forever to leave the field and then engaging the fourth official on his way off, but he will have little argument after watching the replay, going over the ball and taking aim at Herrera’s shin with his studs.

The game was immediately out of reach for the home side, as Manchester United took a 2-0 lead less than a minute into the second half restart. Henrikh Mkhitaryan collected a long ball from Luke Shaw, touched it expertly forward, and fired into the bottom corner with a similar finish to Zlatan’s earlier strike. The assist from Shaw was his first Premier League helper in over two years.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

With the game firmly in hand, Jose Mourinho instructed his team to shut it down just past the hour mark, looking to preserve the clean sheet against a disadvantaged opponent. Despite that, they still had some chances down the stretch. Moments after coming on the field, Anthony Martial received a perfect long-ball from Daley Blind and nearly chipped Pickford but couldn’t get enough air under the ball.

They’d get a third with just ticks left on the clock as Rashford played a one-two with Ibrahimovic, receiving the return ball to beat Jason Denayer, and the 19-year-old expertly finished to the far left corner for United’s third. The final few minutes were nothing more than a formality, as Manchester United jumped back over Arsenal into fifth with a four-point gap between them and Champions League play. Sunderland remains 10 points back of safety, their Premier League status dwindling with each failed result.

Euro 2016 qualifying roundup: England, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine all snag three points

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Another day full of EURO 2016 qualifiers has passed, with Spain, England, Sweden and the Ukraine coming out as the winners on the way to next year’s major soccer tournament in Europe.

Slovenia 2-3 England: The Three Lions have won all six of their EURO qualifiers so far, and thanks to Jack Wilshere’s brace and Wayne Rooney’s score, England was able to cement that accomplishment in a significant win over Slovenia. Wilshere’s two goals were blasted into the upper-90 in wonderful manner, while Rooney netted his goal in the 86th minute, in a more casual way, to place him at third all-time (48) on England’s top-scorer list. Slovenia opened the game up in the 37th minute when Milivoje Novakovic, off a feed from Josip Illicic, outsmarted an offside trap to convert an attempt past goalkeeper Joe Hart. Nejc Pecnik’s downward header equalized two minutes before Rooney won it.

Spain 1-0 Belarus: Spain is looking good in Group C after Manchester City midfielder David Silva was the lone scorer for Vicente del Bosque’s side, who have solidified a fifth qualifier win and are now three points behind Slovakia. The first half for the Red Furies was dissatisfying to say the least, as Juventus standout Alvaro Morata knocked a quality chance wide of goal, and Belarus keeper Andrey Gorbunov thwarted Pedro on two occasions, while Silva did not receive a penalty kick appeal off Maksim Bordachev’s challenge. Gorbunov was the main reason Belarus was capable of staying close in this one, dealing with 13 shots on goal–several of which were fairly difficult to handle.

[FOLLOW: PST’s EURO 2016 coverage]

Ukraine 3-0 Luxembourg: Ukraine needed this win, and they got it. Hoping to remaining within distance of the top two in Group C, the Yellow-Blues rose to the occasion in the second half, scoring three straight goals to cruise to victory. Daniel Da Mota struck the post for the away side in the opening minutes, while the home team struggled to put one in after having their fair share of chances to start. The second half told a different story, though. Artem Kravets chested in Ukraine’s first of the match, Denys Garmash followed with the header and Yevhen Konoplyanka finished it off in the 86th minute.

Sweden 3-1 Montenegro: Three goals within seven minutes. Two unsurprisingly from Zlatan Ibrahimovic. That’s what gave Sweden this win over Montenegro to fix the squad at second place in Group G right now, four points behind Austria. For the first goal, Sebastian Larsson located Albin Ekdal and fed to him on the right. In turn, Ekdal executed a well-placed cross for the first goal–a header from Marcus Berg. Ibrahimovic grabbed the ball of a throw-in and blasted a long distance strike for the second, and then easily slid the third past Montenegro goalkeeper Vukasin Poleksic. Dejan Damjanovic converted for Montenegro with a penalty kick following Stefan Mugosa being hauled down in the penalty area.

Lithuania 1-2 Switzerland: It’s a comeback win over Lithuania that has the Swiss moving up to second place, six points back from England in Group E. Fedor Cernych handed the home squad the lead in the middle of the second half, but Josip Drmic quickly made up for the lapse with an equalizer five minutes later. Inter Milan midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri took Breel Embolo’s assist and placed it low for the 84th-minute advantage.

Other results

Russia 0-1 Austria

Estonia 2-0 San Marino

Slovakia 2-1 Macedonia

Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Sunderland

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• Victory on Sunday would be the Black Cats’ third in five Premier League games at Stamford Bridge.

• If Chelsea fail to win they will be only the second champions in the last 12 seasons to end with fewer than 86 points. Manchester United took the title with 80 points in 2011.

• The Black Cats have won just one of their 13 previous games on the final day of a Premier League season. (BBC Sport)

On Sunday, when Chelsea and Sunderland face off to conclude each’s 2014-15 Premier League season, neither squad will have much to worry about.

The last meeting between these outfits ended in a 0-0 draw back in November, Sunderland’s “parked bus” tactic working at its finest.

The Blues clinched the Premier League title weeks ago—on May 3—with a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace. Since then, manager Jose Mourinho has noticed a small patch of inconsistency, as his side drew Liverpool at Stamford Bridge and lost 3-0 to mid-table dweller West Brom.

[RELATED: Premier League table | Stat leaders | Highlights ]

But aside from the latest problems, Chelsea has been at the pinnacle of English soccer for the majority of the season, and Mourinho and Co. continue to add awards to their trophy case marking the overall triumph of the past nine months.

Meanwhile, for Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat, avoiding demotion to the Championship became his main priority after the club sacked Gus Poyet in the middle of March. At that point, the Black Cats were just one point above the relegation zone and had lost to Aston Villa, 4-0, on home ground.

[RELATED: Behind the scenes at Stoke City with USMNT defender Geoff Cameron]

Advocaat was brought in to salvage what little positive action could be mustered late in the year, following weeks of disappointment for a side that should’ve never dwelled near the bottom-three for so long.

Sunderland’s draw to Arsenal last week ensured a five-game unbeaten run, an extension offer to the Dutch boss, and most importantly, survival.

Catch the action this Sunday at 10:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN, or online through Live Extra.

What they’re saying

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho reflects on personal attitude throughout season (ESPN FC): “I’m not the kind of person to regret. What you did, you did. What happened, happened. You cannot change things. Time does not go back…We had lots of mistakes against us, that’s the reality, but that’s football. Maybe ‘campaign’ is not a nice word. Maybe I would take that word out from my explanation and my comments, but that’s the reality.”

Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher on Advocaat staying on as manager (The Guardian): “It’s been a remarkable turnaround since Dick came in,” said the Sunderland striker. He’s been great. He got his style of play in place and across to us straight away and it’s reflected in the points we’ve put on the board….He’s only been here for a couple of months but you could see what survival meant to him. He’s a very passionate man. We see it in training every day.”

Match injuries/absences

Most notably, Chelsea will not have Eden Hazard on the pitch due to his recovery from wisdom teeth surgery, while Cesc Fabregas will serve his one-game ban originating from a red card against West Brom.

Young center back Kurt Zouma, Ramires, Petr Cech and Oscar are all not ready to play because of injury.

Black Cats midfielder Sebastian Larsson has recovered from a mid-week problem and should appear for Sunderland. Goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon is out with a knee condition. Other Sunderland players sidelined with injury: Wes Brown, Jordi Gomez, Liam Bridcutt and Danny Graham.

Prediction

Being a game that has little significance besides entertainment value, the result will hinge on the amount of effort players on both sides are willing to put forth. Chelsea 3-2 Sunderland.

Sunderland 0-0 Leicester City: Foxes survive! Draw keeps Leicester up

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Leicester City have completed the “Great Escape” as the Foxes secured a 0-0 draw at Sunderland on Saturday to secure their Premier League status after spending 140 days on the bottom of the table.

[ RELATED: Watch full match replays ]

Nigel Pearson’s men battled hard away at Sunderland and despite only having a good chance early on that Leonardo Ulloa missed, the Foxes stayed up.

As for Sunderland, the Black Cats need one more point from their final two games to secure safety as Dick Advocaat’s side could have easily won this match but Sebastian Larsson’s free kick and Adam Johnson’s effort was saved wonderfully by Kasper Schmeichel.

With the point Leicester is on 38 points and sit in 14th place, as their incredible run of six wins and a draw from their last eight games propelled them up the table, while Sunderland are on 37 points and sit in 16th.

[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]

The first chance of the match came courtesy of a Larsson free kick form long-range which bounced just in front of Schmeichel but Leicester’s goalkeeper saved brilliantly.

In the 10th minute Jeffrey Schlupp’s fantastic cross from the left caused havoc and Marc Albrighton headed the ball across the goal but Ulloa couldn’t quite get on the end of it.

Danny Graham was causing all kinds of problems for Leicester and the striker had his shot pushed away by Schmeichel but as the first half played out Leicester began to look increasingly dangerous on the counter.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half Sunderland tried to switch things up as Johnson came off the bench. In the 62nd minute Patrick van Aanholt came so close to putting the Black Cats ahead. The Dutch full back flashed an effort wide of the goal as Advocaat’s men pushed for a winner late on.

Johnson then jinxed inside from the right but Schmeichel saved his effort at the near post as the Mackems fans tried to roar their team on to victory. Steven Fletcher sent a header just wide with less than 10 minutes on the clock and then Kramaric lobbed an effort over after a mix-up at the back from Sunderland.

In the end both sides settled for a draw as the Foxes stayed up and Sunderland is one point from securing their top-flight status.

LINEUPS

Sunderland: Pantilimon; Jones (Reveillere, 86′), Coates, O’Shea, Van Aanholt; Larsson, Cattermole, Bridcutt (Johnson, 60′); Defoe, Graham (Fletcher, 80′), Wickham.

Leicester: Schmeichel; Wasilewski, Huth, Morgan; Albrighton, King, Cambiasso, Schlupp; Mahrez (Drinkwater, 67′), Ulloa (Kramaric, 75′), Vardy.

Everton 0-2 Sunderland: Black Cats grab massive win as the “great escape” is on

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Sunderland beat Everton 2-0 at Goodison Park on Saturday, as Dick Advocaat’s side breathed new life into their battle against relegation.

[ RELATED: Watch full match replays ]

Two second half goals, both courtesy of lucky deflections, from Danny Graham and Jermain Defoe did the damage as Everton dominated play but came up against a Sunderland side who were resolute in defense as goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon plus Wes Brown and Lee Cattermole were rocks at the back. The Toffees had 73 percent of possession but the closest they came was James McCarthy’s shot which cannoned off the post in the second half.

With the win Sunderland moves up to 14th place on 36 points, while Everton remain in 11th on 44 points.

[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]

Early on it was all Everton as the Toffees were patient in possession and in the seventh minute Leon Osman found some space in the box but slipped just as he curled his effort wide of the far post.

Everton continued to press for the opener and Ross Barkley had an effort blocked in the 20th minute following a great surging run down the right from Seamus Coleman. Before half time Sunderland finally showed some attacking intent but both Defoe and Connor Wickham fired effort off target.

In the 41st minute the Toffees had the best chance of the first half as Osman played in Romelu Lukaku but Pantilimon smothered the ball at his feet and then saved Osman’s follow up after Aaron Lennon had put the ball back into the danger area.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half Sunderland came out fighting and had a chance through Graham as he threw himself as Sebastian Larsson’s effort but side-footed over. Everton then went close as Wickham headed clear from danger as Lukaku looked to pounce and then the first goal of the game arrived. In the 53rd minute Larsson’s cross from the right found Jordi Gomez and his goalbound effort was deflected into the net by Graham as Sunderland’s fans rejoiced.

The goal was Graham’s first in 28 appearances for the Black Cats since arriving from Swansea last season and it was the first goal Everton had conceded in 434 minutes at home in the PL. Everton responded well to going behind as Seamus Coleman dribbled through Sunderland’s defense as he juggled the ball and slammed just wide, while soon after McCarthy came closest for the Toffees as he slammed a shot against the foot of the post. Late on Everton had a huge shout for a penalty kick waved away as Coleman arrived at the back post to slot home but Defoe appeared to clip the right back as he tracked back. No penalty, and moments later Defoe wrapped up the win.

In the 85th minute John Stones was caught in possession and substitute Steven Fletcher ran into the box before laying it off to Adam Johnson who hit a shot across goal that deflected in off Defoe. 2-0 to Sunderland, as the great escape is well and truly on.

LINEUPS

Everton: Howard, Coleman, Baines (Garbutt, 74′) , Stones, Jagielka, McCarthy, Barry (Mirallas, 62′), Lennon (McGeady, 87′), Barkley, Osman, Lukaku

Sunderland: Pantilimon, Jones, van Aanholt, Brown, Coates, Cattermole, Gomez, Larsson (Bridcutt, 84′), Defoe, Wickham (Fletcher, 84′), Graham (Johnson, 74′)

Goals: Graham (53′), Defoe (85′)