| Sunderland’s Tore Andre Flo (right) holds off a challenge from Jihai Sun of Manchester City during a Premier League match at the Stadium of Light Monday. Manchester City won 3-0. (AFP)
London: Sunderland were booed off the pitch after their poor season continued with a crushing 3-0 home defeat to Manchester City in the English Premier League on Monday.
Goals from Marc Vivien Foe, Sun Jihai and Shaun Goater condemned Howard Wilkinson’s side to their fifth successive defeat in all competitions and left them second bottom of the table with just 14 points and eight goals from 17 games.
Sunderland, beaten by first division Sheffield United in the League Cup last week, have now gone five matches without scoring. Manager Howard Wilkinson said the coaching staff had to remain positive and optimistic despite the club’s dismal run.
“There’s a problem here with belief and confidence and that affects us more at home than away... That’s something that we have to deal with.
“The players are working very, very hard. They are finding it difficult to transfer training ground performances into playing performances and that is something we have spoken about this evening.”
City manager Kevin Keegan said he was delighted by City’s fifth win in seven games which lifted them two places to 12th.
“This has given us a bit of breathing space and we can now start thinking of challenging the teams above us and going a bit higher,” said Keegan.
“We’ve got a few players to come back from injury and a bit of money to spend in the transfer window, so things are looking positive for us at the minute.”
Foe made the breakthrough in the 44th minute when he beat Sunderland keeper Juergen Macho to Sun’s pass from deep and stretched out a leg to poke the ball into the untended net.
The goal provided a rare moment of excitement in a match of low drama marred by strong winds and yielding precious few genuine chances on goal.
It has been 20 months since Sunderland conceded the first goal and went on to win a match and once again they struggled to haul themselves back into the game. Michael Proctor, who had Sunderland’s best chance of the first period, was a metre wide with a long range effort in the 55th minute.
But within minutes the visitors stretched their lead when Chinese international Sun pounced for City’s second, running from deep to slot home from 10 metres. Hundreds of fans had already streamed out of the Stadium of Light when Goater sealed the rout three minutes from time, swivelling on the edge of the area and crashing a low shot into the corner of Macho’s goal.