Black Cats end winless streak
By Tom Adams. Last Updated: 25/09/05 4:45pm
Sunderland's first Premiership win since 2002 came at the expense of Middlesbrough as The Black Cats secured a much needed 2-0 win in the first North East derby of the season.
After seeing their chances of ending their 26-game winless streak ended in such cruel circumstances against West Brom, Mick McCarthy's men witnessed their fortunes change at The Riverside in a game they rarely dominated.
Goalkeeper Kelvin Davis was the hero of the first half as a string of saves preserved Sunderland's advantage after Tommy Miller scored early on, whilst Julio Arca's free kick sealed the win Wearside had been waiting for for so long.
McCarthy's men were handed the best of starts after just two minutes when an opportunistic Miller stole in to put Sunderland in the ascendancy for just the second time so far this season.
Both George Boateng and Ugo Ehiogu failed to deal with Davis's long clearance and as Miller continued his run he prodded in off the post as the ball fell at his feet from a deflection off Emmanuel Pogatetz's knee.
It was a messy goal for the hosts to concede and youngster James Morrison was one player looking keen to make amends, although the home side initially struggled to break down a resilient Sunderland.
Both Boateng and Franck Queudrue had shots blocked before Davis, looking to prove a point after an inauspicious start to the season, denied what would have been a fine goal as he stopped Morrison converting a fluid counter-attack when one-on-one.
The former Ipswich man followed with another impressive stop just a minute later as Yakubu Aiyegbeni proved unable to take advantage of Nyron Nosworthy's sliced clearance from close range.
For the visitors Arca was probing down the left flank, although they lacked a clear sight at goal and their frustration was evident as Stephen Caldwell lashed wildly over after Gary Breen won a header at the back post.
The inexperienced Morrison was slightly wasteful at times but acted as a useful outlet for Boro and was first denied by a bad offside judgement before shooting wide from long range as the half drew to a close.
However there was still time for Davis to again save Sunderland as he dived low to his right to tip away a strong drive from Boateng after Fabio Rochemback surprised The Black Cats' defence by cutting his set piece back to the awaiting Dutchman.
Sunderland were temporarily reduced to nine men early in the second half as both Nosworthy and Christian Bassila needed treatment for a clash of heads, and Boro would have taken advantage but for a poor pass from Yakubu that forced Mark Viduka to check back and curl a shot wide of the left-hand post.
The Black Cats had been riding their luck throughout the tie although after a run of 27 Premiership games without victory, their fortunes finally began to change as the impressive Arca put them into a two-goal lead on the hour mark.
The Argentine winger was handed a free kick after a foul on the edge of the box and curled a beautiful shot over the wall that left Brad Jones with no chance.
However Boro may have felt aggrieved that Andy Gray was in an offside position just as the foul on Stephen Elliot was conceded in a dangerous area.
McClaren sent on Ray Parlour and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in a bid to wrest control of the tie back from their near neighbours, although they were struggling to test Davis again as Queudrue shot over and Massimo Maccarone was unable to find the Dutch substitute when well placed.
It was a tepid second half from the home side, and Boateng wasted two more chances in the dying minutes as he headed wide and then saw Davis called into action again as the keeper tipped away a low shot from the Dutchman.
Sunderland ended their agonising winless streak in less than emphatic fashion, but a first three points in the top flight for almost three years will be welcome in any circumstances as the men from The Stadium of Light finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel.
Middlesbrough v Sunderland player ratings.
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|5||Shots on Target||2|
|9||Shots off Target||2|
Barclays Premier League
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|19||West Bromwich Albion||4||2|