Sunderland 1 Stoke City 0 match report: Adam Johnson revival lifts Sunderland out of relegation zone

Steven Nzonzi was dismissed for the Potters at the Stadium of Light

stadium of light

As the final whistle approached, with Sunderland about to pop their head out of the bottom three of the Premier League for the first time since August, the level of panic in the stadium was almost unbearable.

Sunderland’s extra man, following the sending off of Stoke’s Steven N’Zonzi, like the fact they were the home side, had long since been forgotten.

The Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross cracked a header off Vito Mannone’s crossbar and the Sunderland defender Wes Brown almost sliced into his own goal. Each moment drew new gasps.

There are 15 more of these potential nailbiters still to come. And a Capital One Cup final. And a derby on Saturday against fierce rivals Newcastle United, not to mention the fifth round of the FA Cup. Somehow Gus Poyet has made Sunderland’s season enthralling.

Perhaps it has been the realisation that the World Cup looks likely to pass him by, but Adam Johnson’s resurgence has also been dramatic. He had been involved in Sunderland’s last six goals (either as creator or scorer) before his clever finish here after 17  minutes took that tally to seven.

Fabio Borini’s shot was only parried by Asmir Begovic to his left and in that failure came opportunity. Johnson chased the clearance and with the most deft of touches with his left foot, nudged the ball out of the reach of the Stoke goalkeeper.

Now, from a tight angle, he had to steer the ball past Begovic and, again, he did that with precision. It was Johnson’s sixth goal in his last six games, his eighth for the season. They are statistics most English wingers would be fairly pleased with.

Steven N'Zoni of Stoke City is sent off by referee Robert Madley Steven N'Zoni of Stoke City is sent off by referee Robert Madley It was certainly a subtlety of play that Mark Hughes’ side could have done with in front of goal in the opening half.

Shawcross, the usually dependable Stoke captain, was most culpable. In the 39th minute Charlie Adam, who was booked for simulation a minute later, produced a fine, left-footed cross deep into the heart of the Sunderland penalty area. Shawcross looked nailed on to score, but his effort was too near to the Sunderland keeper Mannone, who saved well, to the frustration of Hughes.

There had been more opportunities to cancel out Johnson’s strike. Adam had shot narrowly wide, and in the 32nd minute Peter Crouch had almost capitalised when a Geoff Cameron cross bisected Mannone and John O’Shea. Crouch’s initial attempted finish was clever and it drew an excellent save from the Italian. The rebound was more comfortably collected.

Stoke’s evening took a major turn for the worse in the 53rd minute when N’Zonzi, who had already been booked for a foul in the first half, ended up on the wrong side of Jozy Altidore, with the striker heading for goal, outside the visitors’ penalty area.

Given the American’s lousy form in English football, the midfielder would have been advised to let the Sunderland man go, but in his efforts to get near the striker, Altidore fell under the smallest (if any) contact. The referee produced a second yellow and N’Zonzi became the third Stoke player to be sent off in the North-east this season.

Altidore, with just a solitary Premier League goal to his name since his £6m move to the Stadium of Light in the summer, had the chance to secure victory moments later after being played through by Borini. However, Begovic saved his close-range shot.

 

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
News
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

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project