Premier League - Sunderland thrash sorry Stoke

Sun, 18 Sep 16:57:00 2011

Sunderland stunned a sluggish Stoke City to claim a convincingly 4-0 win in their Premier League encounter at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland 4 Stoke 0

Titus Bramble put the Black Cats in front as early as the fifth minute courtesy of a dismal mistake from Asmir Begovic, before a headed own goal from Jonathan Woodgate saw the hosts swiftly double their lead.

Stoke's misery was compounded as a low drive from Craig Gardner took a vicious deflection to loop over the hapless Begovic, and a fourth followed with Sebastian Larsson lashing home a stunning free-kick as the underfire Steve Bruce was left to celebrate a comprehensive victory.

The visitors looked lethargic early on as Sunderland dominated the possession from kick off, and Bramble netted the opener as early as the fifth minute after Begovic inexplicably failed to grasp his seemingly innocuous effort.

Ryan Shawcross had to pull off a last-ditch challenge to thwart the dangerous Stephane Sessegnon as Sunderland continued to pile on the pressure, and the Black Cats proceeded to double their lead in the 11th minute.

An exquisite deep cross from Larsson caused havoc in the Stoke box, and Woodgate beat Nicklas Bendtner to the ball, inadvertently heading past his own keeper Begovic to gift the hosts a two-goal lead.

Stoke very nearly hit back within six minutes as Matthew Etherington executed a majestic free kick which beat the Sunderland wall and forced Simon Mignolet into making a fine diving save to his left to parry the ball wide.

But Sunderland were undeterred by the fleeting pressure on their goal and a fierce drive from Gardner on the edge of the Stoke box took a vicious deflection off Shawcross and looped over Begovic to give the hosts a three-goal advantage.

Stoke came out after the break determined to arrest their slump and the visitors enjoyed a sustained spell of possession without being able to make a concerted assault on the Sunderland goal.

The Black Cats refused to be dictated to, and Larsson capped a distinguished performance with an exquisite curled free kick round into the far corner of the net, with Begovic beaten on his side of the goal with the Stoke wall left helpless on the hour mark.

Begovic sought to make amends for his earlier blunder, and he made a very fine sprawling save down low to his left to deny the excellent Sessegnon, whose rasping drive appeared destined for the bottom corner of the net.

It was a case of damage limitation late on for Stoke as Pulis swiftly made his full allocation of substitutions and looked to simply shore up his side defensively in the final stages.

Sunderland closed out a clinical and ruthlessly efficient victory with a clean sheet the bonus Bruce was looking for as his side helped alleviate some of the pressure on his shoulders with the three points, while inflicting a first defeat of the Premier League campaign on an off-colour Stoke.

Dan Quarrell - follow on Twitter @danquarrell / Eurosport

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