All sweetness and Stadium of Light at Sunderland? It looks a whole lot healthier for the Wearsiders after they arrested their slump and claimed their first Premier League in four matches yesterday. You never know, Roy Keane might even stay.
The rumours that Keane had left the club had already been rubbished in any case but the Sunderland manager's mood, never predictable, will surely have been improved. Not only did the visiting supporters sing his name throughout, but his team oozed character in coming back from a goal down.
Kenwyne Jones and Djibril Cisse, with his fifth goal of the season, ensured Sunderland secured their second away win of the season and, such is the tightness of the current Premier League, catapulted the club from the bottom three into mid-table. Taking their place are Blackburn, Rovers, who have picked up three points out of 21.
"We were diabolical in the second half," Paul Ince, the Blackburn manager, said. " I've just had a go at the whole team because I'm upset, annoyed, angry. They put themselves in a great position, they didn't take their chances in the first half and got punished because they didn't have the mental toughness to take the game to Sunderland."
The outcome was a surprise because Blackburn were comfortably the better team in the first half and could have been three up in eighth minutes. Stephen Warnock pulled a shot wide from near the penalty spot, Zurab Khizanishvili had a header clawed from his near post by Marton Fulop and Roque Santa Cruz hit the bar with a header. Instead of accelerating away, however, they had to wait until just before the interval to take the lead when Chris Samba, a rare exempt from Ince's criticism, looped a header over Fulop and the defenders on the line.
Sunderland needed a quick response in the second half and they got one. A header against the bar from Steed Malbranque's cross by Jones instigated a series of corners and, eventually, Blackburn cracked. Or rather make that Robinson, because his punch from Kieran Richardson's corner launched the ball just three yards. From there, Jones acrobatically found the roof of the net.
The visitors were now vibrant where they had been poor and they sealed their win after 72 minutes when Malbranque deftly headed a through ball for Cisse, who beat Robinson in the race for the ball and chipped over the goalkeeper.
"We had a few words at half-time," Keane said, "and credit to the players they responded." And the rumours of his leaving?. "People put two and two together and made 10, it's just stupid," he replied. "I think people must have been very, very bored because there's no logic to this nonsense."Reuse content