Big Sam Allardyce’s streak of never been relegated is still intact as Sunderland ensured their Premier League survival, and in the process relegated both Newcastle United and Norwich City, with a 3-0 win over Everton at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday.
Say what you want about the style of football that an Allardyce’s team, plays, but he knows maybe better than anyone, how to organize a team and make it difficult to beat. When it counted Sunderland played their best stretch of football when it counted the most, with only one defeat in their last 10 matches, including a five-game unbeaten run from which they have picked up 11 points from a possible 15.
If you looked at the form guide over the last six games, the Black Cats are tied for third, behind only Southampton and champions Leicester.
In what could have been a nervy night at the Stadium of Light was eased by the arrival of Everton, who capitulated once again for Roberto Martinez.
Sunderland took the lead in the 38th minute when Patrick van Aanholt curled in a free kick and Everton goalkeeper Joel Robles inexplicably moved to his side expecting the ball to go in the other direction — it nestled into the net where Robles had been stood.
It was 2-0 just four minutes later when Lamine Kone scored his first goal for the club, lashing in a finish that gave Robles no chance after Leighton Baines had played him onside from a Yann M’Vila headed pass.
Any half-time nerves the supporters may have had were soon banished, as Kone netted his second 10 minutes into the second half. Everton made a mess of dealing with a corner, and Kone was on hand to power an effort over the line.
Sunderland’s win meant that Norwich’s 4-2 thumping of Watford did not matter in the larger scheme of things. Troy Deeney gave the visitors the lead in the 11th minute, but it didn’t last long. Nathan Redmond levelled within four minutes when Heurelho Gomes made a hash of keeping out the winger’s effort, and moments late the Canaries were in front thanks to Dieumerci Mbokani.
It got even better for Alex Neil’s men in the 37th minute when Craig Cathcart put through his own net.
Odion Ighalo reduced the arrears six minutes after half-time, but any hopes Watford had of getting anything out of the game were hit when Mbokani notched his second of the match in the 57th minute after latching onto a Redmond through ball.
The day’s other game saw Liverpool and Chelsea draw 1-1 at Anfield. This used to be an eagerly anticipated match but with Liverpool’s focus on the Europa League Final next week and Chelsea playing out the string, this was a decidedly low-key affair.
Guus Hiddink’s side looked to be on their way to victory on Merseyside, Eden Hazard scoring the opening goal of the game just after the half hour. But in the second minute of stoppage time Christian Benteke scored to earn a 1-1 draw. Substitute Sheyi Ojo delivered the cross from the left, and Asmir Begovic’s attempt to claw the ball away from goal only saw it fall onto the head of the Belgium international who could not miss from six yards out.