Turner occupies centre stage

Sunderland 4 Hull City 1
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The Independent Football

It was like the good old days on Wearside on Saturday. At Chester-le-Street, Durham's cricketers lifted the County Championship trophy for the second successive year. In the region once known as the hotbed of soccer, a back-to-back, top-flight football championship double has been achieved once, in 1893 by the Sunderland side known as the team of all the talents.

Steve Bruce has some way to go before he can start talking about a trophy-contending side of all-round excellence, but here were signs that Sunderland's manager of three months is bringing old-fashioned virtues to a team of greater talent than the one that struggled to cling on to Premier League status last season.

In Michael Turner, Bruce has started to shore up a dithering defence with a stopper created in his own rock- solid image. "He's a no-nonsense, old-fashioned centre-back," the Sunderland manager said of his £6.5m signing. "I'm sure he'll be a big crowd favourite here because he does all the things that, for me, a centre-back should. He wants to head it. He wants to tackle. He wants to compete. He's a threat in both boxes. He scores goals like he did today. You can say it might have got a deflection but I would say it was a great header from him."

After looking at slow-motion pictures, the Press Association said Sunderland's fourth strike was an own goal by Kamil Zayatte. Still, the manner in which Turner stole into the six-yard box and attacked Andy Reid's right-wing corner suggested Sunderland have a centre-half blessed with the kind of aerial clout Charlie Hurley and Dave Watson brought to the opposition area in the 1960s and 1970s. The new boy also brought an assured touch and presence to the Sunderland defence, unfazed by making his debut against the club he captained in their last game, a 1-1 draw at Wolves.

The home guard did buckle two minutes before half-time. Lorik Cana, Sunderland's hyperactive Albanian midfielder, allowed Zayatte to slip free and head home Kamel Ghilas' left-wing corner. That drew Hull level but Reid drilled Sunderland back in front and then the City defence performed the disappearing trick that allowed Darren Bent, who opened the scoring with a 13th-minute penalty, to complete his double. A hellish day for Hull and for Phil Brown, their manager, was completed when Turner, a Tiger-turned-Black Cat, rose to head the fourth home goal on its way.

Sunderland (4-4-2): Gordon; Bardsley (Mensah, 77), Turner, Ferdinand, Richardson; Malbranque (Da Silva, 80), Cana, Cattermole, Reid; Campbell, Bent (Jones, 74). Substitutes not used: Carson (gk), Henderson, Nosworthy, Murphy.

Hull City (4-3-2-1): Myhill; McShane, Zayatte, Sonko, Dawson; Geovanni, Olofinjana, Kilbane (Mendy, 75); Ghilas (Altidore, 64), Hunt; Fagan (Vennegoor of Hesselink, 58). Substitutes not used: Duke (gk), Barmby, Halmosi, Boateng.

Referee: M Atkinson (West Yorkshire).

Booked: Sunderland Cattermole, Cana; Hull McShane, Olofinjana.

Man of the match: Reid.

Attendance: 38,997