A week on from the hope and euphoria of winning the Tyne-Wear derby, Sunderland’s season reverted to the more familiar dismay of defeat. This was their eighth of the season and none has been more spectacularly self-inflicted.
Behind to a Carlos Cuellar own goal, they made life almost impossible for themselves by having two players sent off in first-half stoppage time as Lee Cattermole (below) and Andrea Dossena suffered the consequence of reckless indiscipline.
Cattermole – no stranger to red cards –was dismissed for a wild challenge on one-time Sunderland team-mate Ahmed Elmohamady, to be followed down the tunnel four and a half minutes later by Dossena after the Italian stamped on David Meyler, another former Black Cat.
Both forced referee Andre Marriner to reach for his back pocket during seven minutes added for a head injury suffered by Sunderland goalkeeper Keiren Westwood, who had to be replaced in goal by Vito Mannone after an accidental collision with Paul McShane.
It left Sunderland with a disadvantage they were always at long odds to overcome, and although they drew some consolation from keeping a second-half clean sheet with only nine men, that said as much about Hull’s shortcomings in front of goal. To their frustration, they might have snatched a point had Hull’s former Newcastle keeper, Steve Harper, not made a brave, point-blank save from Adam Johnson with 12 minutes left.
Thus former Sunderland manager Steve Bruce was able to enjoy a moment of personal satisfaction against the club who sacked him two years ago this month as Hull maintained their unbeaten home record.
Cattermole’s red card was the eighth of his career and seventh in the Premier League. Only Richard Dunne, Patrick Vieira and Duncan Ferguson have been sent off more times in the top flight. Five of the midfielder’s dismissals were under Bruce’s management – at Wigan as well as Sunderland.
“I’ve looked at both challenges and I think the referee got them both right,” Bruce said. “The first one, if you leave the floor with your studs showing you know what is coming. The second one, believe me, is a horror challenge. Everyone knows what I think of Lee Cattermole as player but the one thing he still has to curb is when the red mist comes over him. Thankfully he is not my player to manage now.”
New Sunderland manager Gus Poyet was less convinced that Marriner took the right action both times, agreeing with the Dossena decision but suggesting that Cattermole’s reputation may have gone before him.
“Every time he makes a tackle and does not get the ball, does that mean he gets sent off?” asked Poyet. “Maybe we should change the rules and play with puppies because if you are taking away everything, every challenge.
The deciding goal came midway through the first half when Cuellar managed to prevent a Liam Rosenior cross reaching Yannick Sagbo but in doing so glanced the ball into his own net. Westwood was hurt as he and McShane went for a 50-50 ball, prompting Poyet to ask why McShane was not punished. “I’m not accusing McShane of anything but he went for the ball and missed it and almost took Westwood’s head off,” he said.
Hull (4-1-4-1): Harper; Rosenior (Proschwitz, 69), Davies, McShane, Figueroa; Huddlestone; Elmohamady, Meyler (Koren, 56), Livermore, Boyd (Brady, 75); Sagbo.
Sunderland (4-4-2): Westwood (Mannone, h-t); Bardsley, Cuellar, O’Shea, Dossena; Larsson, Cattermole, Colback, Borini (Brown, h-t); Fletcher, Altidore (Johnson, h-t).
Referee: Andre Marriner.
Man of the match: Livermore (Hull)
Match rating: 5/10