Sunderland 2 Leeds United 0: Connolly underlines Keane progress as Poyet sees red

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The Independent Football

As two of the Premiership's most committed and accomplished professionals, Roy Keane and Dennis Wise enjoyed many a punishing confrontation. It is, perhaps, a measure of the relative fortunes of their respective clubs that Keane versus Wise is no longer seen as a Herculean clash. The same can be said of Sunderland's fixtures against Leeds which, despite their heady tradition, are now far removed from one of English football's main events.

Yet, just as Keane and Wise belong in the top flight, so do two of the game's northern heavyweights. Whether either will profit from the gamble of appointing two proven players seeking to make their mark in management remains to be seen but many of their equally talented peers have failed.

Of the two, Keane is making the most rapid progress and this ultimately comfortable victory, secured with second-half goals by David Connolly and Grant Leadbitter, moved the improving Wearsiders to within touching distance of the play-off places. Leeds remain one place off the bottom of a poor league and the dismissal of the club's assistant manager, the former Chelsea midfielder Gustavo Poyet, only served to deepen the sense of gloom.

Not that the eternally optimistic Wise will let such matters dampen his mood. "If Gus needs to have money taken off him, then I will do that," he said, admitting that Poyet could be fined for throwing a loose ball into open play. The referee, Graham Salisbury, interpreted it as an attempt to disrupt a Sunderland attack and issued a red card 11 minutes from time.

Sunderland (4-4-2): Ward; Whitehead, Varga, Caldwell, Nyatanga (D Collins, 58); Elliott (Wallace, 58), Leadbitter, Miller, Murphy (Hysen, 90); Yorke, Connolly. Substitutes not used: Fulop, Nosworthy.

Leeds United (3-4-3): Warner; Foxe, Ehiogu (Kilgallon, 72), Heath; Richardson, Douglas, Derry (Healy, 72), Lewis; Beckford (Moore, 72), Kandol, Westlake. Substitutes not used: Sullivan, Howson.

Referee: G Salisbury (Lancashire).