Murphy thunderbolt stuns Latics
Keane wins the battle of the United old boys
By Hayley Paterson. Last Updated: 09/02/08 6:41pm
Sunderland goalscorers celebrate
Daryl Murphy lashed home an unstoppable strike to give Sunderland the much-needed three points as they beat Wigan 2-0.
For the third time this season, former Manchester United favourites Roy Keane and Steve Bruce lined up their sides against each other. Both teams, struggling for consistency this season, started nervously and had scrappy periods of play with neither goalkeeper troubled in the opening minutes.
The breakthrough came when Dickson Etuhu connected perfectly with Dean Whitehead's teasing freekick just before the interval.
Wigan had chances to level moments after the second-half had begun, with Marlon King's one-on-one effort scrambled away by the impressive Dean Whitehead. Kevin Kilbane followed up with a grass-cutter, but it cannoned back off Craig Gordon's post.
It was hard-working Murphy who came up with the killer goal on 75 minutes after debutant Andy Reid's crossfield ball found the front-man, and his thunderbolt rifled into the top corner.
By the time the whistle sounded at the end of the opening 45 minutes, both managers headed for the dressing rooms experiencing mixed emotions.
The game only really exploded into life in the last few minutes of the first half, although Roy O'Donovan had clipped the outside of a post with a header and
Paul Scharner and Wilson Palacios had both just missed the target from distance.
Sunderland were growing increasingly frustrated when full-back Phil Bardsley surged forward and sent a right-foot shot flying past Kirkland's right-hand post.
That seemed to spark the home side, and they took the lead eight minutes later after Michael Brown, much to his annoyance, was penalised for a foul on Bardsley.
Whitehead curled the resulting free-kick invitingly to the far post when Etuhu met it with a bullet header to put his side ahead.
Emile Heskey perhaps should have cancelled out the Nigerian's strike within seconds, but shot just wide of the far post as he fell backwards.
Had substitute Rade Prica been quicker to react, he might have made it 2-0 on 44 minutes when the ball was taken off strike-partner Kenwyne Jones toe and fell perfectly for him, but he could only stub his effort harmlessly at Kirkland.
Bruce replaced skipper Mario Melchiot with midfielder Jason Koumas at the break, but it was striker Marlon King who sparked panic at the back for the home side.
Gordon managed to block his shot, but could not hang on to it and Brown stabbed the loose ball towards the empty net only for Whitehead to hack his effort clear.
Sunderland could not clear their lines and old boy Kilbane very nearly made them pay when he drilled a low shot against the foot of the post.
Keane's men were in disarray, and they were fortunate to escape again on 52 minutes when Heskey climbed to meet a Koumas cross but saw his header cannon back off the crossbar with beaten.
Heskey made way for Marcus Bent with 22 minutes remaining, but it was Scharner who went close with a 71st-minute glancing header which dropped just wide of the far post.
But Sunderland wrapped up a priceless victory with 15 minutes remaining when debutant Reid, on as a replacement for Michael Chopra, drilled the ball across the field for Murphy to cut inside and hammer a left-foot shot past Kirkland's despairing dive and into the top corner.
Gordon had to save from Kilbane and team-mate Bardsley as the clock ran down, but there was no way back for Wigan.
|Sunderland||Team Statistics||Wigan Athletic|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|4||Shots on Target||4|
|5||Shots off Target||11|
Barclays Premier League
|9||West Ham United||35||47|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||35||40|
|19||Queens Park Rangers||35||27|