Fulham 1 Sunderland 3: We needed that win, admits Martin O’Neill
Fulham 1 Sunderland 3: Martin O'Neill admitted the Black Cats needed a morale-boosting win at Craven Cottage on Sunday
Martin O’Neill praised Sunderland for securing a much-needed win against Fulham at Craven Cottage to move the Black Cats clear of the Premier League’s bottom three.
The match’s turning point came after 30 minutes when Norway international Brede Hangeland was sent off for a two-footed challenge on Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole.
With the man advantage, Steven Fletcher finished off a sweeping counter-attack with a deft finish past Cottagers goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer to put the visitors ahead in the 50th minute.
Martin Jol’s men did manage to level when Mladen Petric finishing from close range, but the Black Cats were back in front 180 seconds later, with Carlos Cuellar scoring his first goal for the club.
O’Neill’s side then cemented a precious three points when Stephane Sessegnon scored the pick of the goals with a viciously swerving strike to complete a 3-1 win.
“Absolutely [we needed that],” O’Neill told Sky Sports. “It was a big, big effort by the team.
“With Fulham going down to 10 men, sometimes you’re not sure how to play it [the numerical advantage] but we tried to stretch them and keep a bit of width, and we’ve won the game.
“Fletcher was absolutely fantastic and so was Simon Mignolet who made some great saves at important moments otherwise Fulham could have got into the game again.”
He added: “We’re hoping this win will be a building block. It’s been a bit of an imbalance really because we’ve played 11 games but seven away from home.
“We’re looking forward to getting back to the Stadium of Light and doing something about it [our league position].”
The Black Cats captain Cattermole also backed Lee Probert’s decision to send off Hangeland for the defender’s first-half challenge which helped the visitors to victory.
“At the time, I thought it was two-footed and the rules of the game nowadays you can’t do that,” said Cattermole.
“It was unfortunate because I didn’t feel it was too bad of a tackle but you can’t do that at the minute.”