Bolton Wanderers illuminated a dull day in the Premier League on Saturday with a 4-1 victory at Sunderland that lifted them to seventh in the standings.
Djibril Cisse gave Sunderland an early lead but Bolton, hot tips for relegation a few games ago, hit back in style with Sweden striker Johan Elmander scoring twice to leave Sunderland in the bottom three.
Fourth-placed Aston Villa failed to take advantage of the three sides above them not being in action, drawing 0-0 at home to Fulham when victory would have taken them above champions Manchester United.
Hull City remained sixth after drawing 1-1 at Stoke City, Ricardo Fuller's penalty earning Stoke a point after Marlon King had given the visitors a glimpse of a fifth away league victory.
Newcastle United edged out of the relegation zone thanks to a 0-0 draw at north east rivals Middlesbrough while bottom club West Bromwich Albion lost 2-1 at Wigan Athletic and remain four points adrift of fourth-bottom Newcastle.
Leaders Chelsea host Arsenal on Sunday when Manchester United cross the city to tackle Manchester City. Second-placed Liverpool, behind Chelsea on goal difference, are at home to West Ham United on Monday.
Sunderland's Stadium of Light was largely empty long before the end as Roy Keane's side slumped to a third consecutive league defeat to leave them mired in relegation trouble.
"The last three or four weeks, particularly at home, we are conceding the kind of goals that make it impossible to win football matches," Keane, whose side face his old club Manchester United next week, told Sky Sports.
Cisse's 11th-minute opener was the perfect start for Sunderland but the jitters returned seven minutes later when Matthew Taylor equalised with a header that went in off the bar.
Gary Cahill quickly put Bolton in front and Sunderland's defence then fell apart either side of halftime as Elmander, the visitors' record signing from Toulouse, grabbed a brace.
Bolton's victory leaves them just five points off the Champions League places and five points from the relegation zone as the Premier League's middle ground remains tightly packed.Reuse content