Ki Sung-Yueng shines alongside Adam Johnson in Sunderland's thumping victory that leaves Fulham clutching at straws

The 4-1 victory at Craven Cottage lifted the Black Cats off the bottom of the table

The spotlight, understandably, was on hat-trick hero Adam Johnson, but the quiet influence Ki Sung-Yueng had on Sunderland’s biggest win of the season should not be underestimated. The South Korean scored one and made one as Sunderland lifted themselves off the bottom for only the first time in five weeks.

The 24-year-old, on loan from Swansea, could have been recalled earlier this week but, to Gus Poyet’s relief, Michael Laudrup decided against it. “It was a difficult day for me, waiting for the phone to ring, but they didn’t [call]," said Poyet who is looking into making the move permanent. “I can see he is enjoying his football, and making a difference, so it is possible. He’s been excellent, our most consistent player."

Sunderland have not put four goals past Premier League opposition since the heady days of Martin O’Neill’s first few weeks in charge on Wearside. That was two years ago and owner Ellis Short has fired O’Neill and Paolo Di Canio since. In Poyet he may finally have made the right choice.

The Uruguayan inherited a Sunderland team that had one point from seven matches and were thrashed at Swansea in the first under his command. “We were 1-0 down, then ‘boom’, we collapse completely," he recalled, adding: “but then we get better, slowly you could see we were better. We needed a full 90 minutes, that happened today."

Since that drubbing in Wales Sunderland have taken 16 points from 13 games. If that form is maintained to the end of the season they will get 38 points, which might just be enough.

Poyet said: “With John O’Shea and Wes Brown at the back, we look more solid, and with Jonno as he was today, and Ki, if we can keep them all fit we have the basis for a good end to the season."

There is an element of fortune when it comes to fitness, as Fulham, desperately missing Brede Hangeland (who should be back in the FA Cup against Norwich on Tuesday) and Marten Steklenberg (who should play at Arsenal on Saturday), can testify. The form of Adam ‘Jonno’ Johnson has also been capricious over the years, but if Poyet has found the key to his being consistent it will be significant for Sunderland and, maybe, England.

“He needs the team to play that type of football to give him the ball in a good position," said Poyet. “He needs the ball and needs the chance to attack the full-backs." He is, added the manager, of an age (26) where there are no excuses: old enough to know the game, yet still with the energy of youth.

Johnson will need to show he has maturity off the field too if Hodgson is to take him to the World Cup for his role is likely be that of impact substitute, which can be a frustrating one. Johnson, capped once by the current manager, 17 months ago, has not given up hope.  

“If you have been involved with England it's always in the back of your mind," he said. "I felt the door was closed as each week went on, but hopefully I can keep playing like this and I might make a late shout for the plane. Stranger things have happened."

He added: "You don't turn into a bad player overnight. I said to myself, 'this is a new year, everything else has gone, do my best'. Everything seems to have worked out for me. I might make a late shout for the plane.

"I have known Theo for years, he is a good friend of mine. I have come through the U19s and U21s with him. I was gutted for him. But if you can gain off someone else's misfortune, you have got to try and take it. But I won't be the only one who is thinking that. There are probably four or five good wingers who won't make the plane."

Looking back on the game Johnson added: “These days don’t come along too often, unless you’re Messi or Ronaldo."

For Fulham they are coming along rather too often. They have conceded 39 goals in 14 games, including the infamous six at Hull and a quintet of fours. Rene Mulensteen talks a good game but Fulham have taken nine points from eight games under him and have a tough run coming up.

“A lot of people will see the scoreline and think ‘what’s happened there?’" he said, before arguing Fulham had controlled the opening stages and should have led. They did create chances, but any team with Steve Sidwell as leading scorer in January has problems.

Darren Bent was once a prolific finisher but there is no place for him in a geriatric team over-reliant on Sidwell and Scott Parker. Sidwell scored Fulham’s goal but conceded the free-kick from which Johnson put Sunderland ahead. Another free-kick won and taken by Johnson led to Ki scoring the second before Johnson completed the scoring from a counter-attack and a penalty. Johnson grabbed the match-ball while Fulham grasped at straws.

Fulham (4-2-3-1): Stockdale; Reither, Senderos, Amorebieta, Riise; Parker, Sidwell; Duff, Taarabt, Dempsey; Berbatov.

Substitutes: Kasami (for Taarabt, 63), Dejagah (for Duff, 68), Bent (for Dempsey, 79)

Sunderland (4-1-4-1): Mannone; Bardsley, O'Shea, Brown, Alonso; Cattermole; Johnson, Ki, Colbeck, Borini; Fletcher.

Substitutes: Altidore (for Fletcher, 66), Larsson (for Borini, 75), Celusta (for Johnson, 86).

Referee: M Dean.

Booked: Fulham: Sidwell, Riise, Parker. Sunderland: Bardsley, Colback, Johnson.

Man of the match: Johnson

Match rating: 7

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Sport
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
voices
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries are at risk of tinnitus
News
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower