Fulham 1 Sunderland 4 match report: Adam Johnson’s first hat-trick gives Black Cats a lift
Johnson was superb throughout as Gus Poyet's side overtake Crystal Palace to rise off the bottom of the league
An England recall for Adam Johnson is improbable, but no longer inconceivable after the right-winger's return to form in the week Theo Walcott was ruled out of the World Cup.
Having inspired Sunderland to a midweek Capital One Cup victory over Manchester United the 26-year-old followed up with a hat-trick against Fulham that enabled the Black Cats’ to climb off the bottom.
The first triple of Johnson’s career, and a goal by Ki Sung-Yueng supplied by Johnson, enabled Sunderland to see off the brief Fulham rally that followed Steve Sidwell’s goal. Victory brought Gus Poyet’s side within a point of safety, and two behind their vanquished opponents.
Poyet, who took over with Sunderland possessing a point from seven games after Paolo Di Canio’s barmy interlude, said: “I will look at the table every two minutes tonight. It has not been nice being bottom but we have lost one in 10 now so we are a bit better.”
Of Johnson who won 12 caps for England, but only one under Roy Hodgson in August 2012, he added: “He needs to play for a team that keeps the ball, that gives it to him in space to play. We tried him on the left, then on the right, then he was on the bench, but now the team is more solid and gives him the freedom to perform. I hope he plays for England at the World Cup because if he does it means we will have stayed up”
Poyet was aided by Brede Hangeland failing a fitness test, in his prolonged absence Fulham have the most porous defence in the divison conceding 46 goals. Fulham did warmly welcome back Clint Dempsey for his second home debut – very warmly given the Texan went on strike to force a move at the end of his first spell at the club. In Fulham’s predicament they cannot be too fussed about the identity of possible saviours but Dempsey looks well off Premier League pace at present.
In these matches the first goal is frequently critical and Fulham should have scored it. Mistakes by Wes Brown, then Jack Colback, gifted chances for Dimitar Berbatov and Adel Taarabt but neither could take them. “We dominated and should have been two up,” Rene Meulensteen, Fulham’s manager, said. “Then we give away a free-kick that leaves us with a mountain to climb.”
It was Johnson who won the kick after 29 minutes through Sidwell’s careless challenge. Stockdale got two hands to Johnson’s curler, but failed to keep it out. “It was saveable,” Meulensteen said. Johnson continued to run at opponents and four minutes before the break Riise clattered him on the touchline. Johnson pulled the free-kick back to Ki, whose shot was deflected past Stockdale by Philippe Senderos.
When Sidwell ran off Marcos Alonso to head Duff’s corner in soon after the break a revival threatened. With Sunderland fielding nine of the men who started against Manchester United , while nine of Fulham’s players had not begun a match since New Year’s Day, it seemed probable that the visitors would tire. Fulham struggled, however, to turn possession into chances and it was Sunderland who scored from a lightning counter-attack. Lee Cattermole won possession from Dempsey on the edge of the Sunderland area and the excellent Ki broke away. He fed Jozy Altidore and kept running to take the return before playing in Johnson behind Riise. The winger slid the ball between Stockdale’s legs.
Darren Bent came on, to jeers from Sunderland fans and silence from the home ones, but it was the visitors who concluded the scoring. Altidore dummied Senderos then took the opportunity to win a penalty presented by the defender’s clumsy thigh-high tackle. Johnson converted.
Sidwell should have scored a late consolation but somehow shot at Vito Mannone from two yards. As well as Ray Wilkins on the bench and Alan Curbishley in the directors box, Gianfranco Zola and Robbie Di Matteo were in the stands. With so many potential replacements in attendance it would be no surprise if Mulensteen had trouble sleeping soundly last night.
Fulham (4-2-3-1): Stockdale; Reither, Senderos, Amorebieta, Riise; Parker, Sidwell; Duff (Dejegah, 68), Taarabt (Kasami, 63), Dempsey (Bent, 79); Berbatov.
Sunderland (4-1-4-1): Mannone; Bardsley, O’Shea, Brown, Alonso; Cattermole; Johnson (Celusta, 86), Ki, Colbeck, Borini (Larsson, 75); Fletcher (Altidore, 66).
Referee: Mike Dean
Man of the match: Johnson (Sunderland)
Match rating: 7/10
New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain
By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen
New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning
Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy
Latest in Sport
Manchester City vs Manchester United combined XI: No place for Yaya Toure... or any United defenders
Sami Khedira transfer news: Arsenal can win the Premier League if they sign Khedira in January, says Perry Groves
Paul Scholes: At last! Some credit for Sam Allardyce
Manchester City vs Manchester United analysis: Manuel Pellegrini has no excuse for City's lack of a Plan B, writes Danny Higginbotham
Impressive Kurt Zouma may save Chelsea millions by replacing John Terry
- 1 'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
- 2 Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
- 3 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
- 4 Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson criticised for beer tweet
- 5 The bubble bursts for Sodastream
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Maureen Lipman says 'she can't vote Labour while Ed Miliband is leader'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything