Premier League - Sunderland sneak past Blackpool

Sat, 22 Jan 16:58:00 2011

A first-half brace from Kieran Richardson saw Sunderland sneak a 2-1 victory over Blackpool in the Premier League at Bloomfield Road.

It was a brilliant display of attacking, incisive football from the Black Cats, which was typically embodied in the movement of Richardson, who took his two goals with real conviction.

The 26 year old opened his account in the 15th minute. Asamoah Gyan played a delightful ball into the path of the winger, who smartly slotted past Richard Kingson as the Blackpool keeper attempted to close down the angle.

The goal was tough on Blackpool who had Neal Eardley sidelined with a bloodied nose moments earlier, which was caused by a Richardson high boot, and consequently opened up a gap in defence from which the Black Cats star fully exploited, to give Sunderland the lead.

Sunderland then doubled their advantage in the 36th minute with a slick move and finish. Steed Malbranque won the ball down the Blackpool right, before darting into the box.

The Frenchman then proceeded to slide the ball into the path of Richardson who finished with aplomb; beating Kingson at his near post with a fine, first-time strike.

Charlie Adam's 85th minute penalty, after David Vaughan was adjudged to have been tripped, proved to be scant consolation for the Tangerines.

Sunderland had begun the match as the better of the two sides - Malbranque sending a header wide, from a Jordan Henderson delivery, when unmarked in the ninth minute.

Gyan was proving to be a constant thorn to the Blackpool defence with his unpredictable runs from deep positions and his link-up with Richardson certainly raised questions over whether Sunderland were missing Darren Bent's goalscoring abilities at all.

Although the scoreline suggested that Steve Bruce's men were comfortable, Blackpool did threaten on occasion in a frenetic opening 45 minutes through their talisman Adam.

In the 29th minute, Adam played a delightful through-ball to Luke Varney who forced a smothering save from Craig Gordon in the Sunderland goal.

Then, a minute later, Gordon was called on to make a flying, acrobatic save to deny his fellow Scot Adam's long-range strike.

Sunderland's keeper was proving to be ever more an important asset as he denied Adam once more on the stroke of half-time.

A curling free-kick from the Blackpool playmaker was dipping under Gordon's crossbar, until the 28-year-old produced a fantastic, flying one-handed save to prevent the Tangerines from going into the half-time break with their deficit halved.

The second-half was a rather more subdued affair, with Sunderland still on top for large periods and Blackpool forced into early substitutions following injuries to Stephen Crainey and Kingson.

Boudewijn Zenden tested substitute Blackpool keeper Paul Rachubka with long-range strikes in the 58th and 66th minutes.

In response, Ian Holloway sent on Marlon Harewood and the big striker almost made an immediate impact. After expertly holding the ball up in the 68th minute, Harewood smashed a shot just the wrong side of the post with Gordon beaten in the Sunderland goal.

That seemed to revitalise the visitors as Henderson provided a dinked strike at goal, which travelled just over Rachubka's bar, following a pin-point clipped Gyan cross into the Sunderland midfielder's path.

With time running out, Adam's controversial 85th-minute penalty set up a tense finale as Blackpool pushed for what would have been a surprise equaliser.

But Sunderland held out to secure all three points, which builds on their strong recent league form and continues their push for a coveted place in Europe.

Liam Graf / Eurosport

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