Football: Sunderland throw promotion race wide open

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THE RACE for the Premiership was thrown wide open last night as Sunderland recorded a 3-0 rout of the First Division leaders, Nottingham Forest.

Sunderland began cautiously - and needed Lionel Perez to save a thunderous Pierre van Hooijdonk free-kick - but there was a gathering threat in their attacks after the first 20 minutes, and in the 31st minute they took the lead when Alex Rae sneaked in at the far post and headed home Allan Johnston's cross.

From then on the visitors took control and could have scored several more before Johnston doubled their advantage after 65 minutes with a well- taken chip.

Van Hooijdonk went close with another free-kick, but 10 minutes from time Phillips got his customary goal - his 23rd of the season - with a cool finish from Niall Quinn's perfect cross. There was still time for Quinn to go close to adding a fourth with a volley that crept just over the Forest bar.