LONDON: Sunderland could just about cling on in the Premier League with a third successive ‘Houdini act’ after gaining a surprise 2-0 win at Everton while fellow strugglers Hull suffered an equally unlikely 1-0 defeat at home to relegation-bound Burnley.
Seven weeks ago Sunderland brought in veteran Dutch coach Dick Advocaat to mastermind a rescue, just like Paolo Di Canio in 2013 and Gus Poyet last year. in Saturday’s early game.
They have won three of their six games and ended, against Everton, a run of eight successive away defeats. Advocaat admitted that Sunderland had luck on their side with deflections assisting both goals from Danny Graham and Jermain Defoe.
Graham’s goal was his first for the club in two and a half years, 28 games and four managers.
Advocaat said: “The players gave 100 per cent and the support of our fans was brilliant from beginning to end. We had a bit of luck on our side but that sometimes happens – and you need it.”
Sunderland thus moved out of the bottom three and Hull dropped in to danger, now two points adrift of safety.
The Tigers, who have still never won a Premier League game in May and have failed to score in 15 of their last 28 matches, look set to join Burnley in the second division with only games away to Tottenham and home to Manchester United remaining.
Leicester continued their remarkable march towards safety with a 2-0 win over Southampton. Riyad Mahrez enhanced his growing reputation by scoring both goals as Nigel Pearson, just named Manager of the Month for April, celebrated a sixth victory in seven matches.
Ronald Koeman’s Saints, after starting the season so brightly, have taken only one point from their last six away league games. Their attacking efforts foundered on the twin rocks of Robert Huth and Wes Morgan.
Ayoze Perez ended Newcastle’s eight-game losing run as they picked up their first league point since February in a 1-1 draw at home to West Bromwich Albion.
The Magpies had briefly slipped into the bottom three when Victor Anichebe headed home after 32 minutes but Perez levelled shortly before the half-time to hand manager John Carver a little respite.
Tom Cleverley virtually ensured safety for FA Cup Finalists Aston Villa. The Manchester United loanee scored his third goal in three games in a 1-0 win over West Ham. This was the first time Villa have won two successive league games.
Hammers have lost all their last 11 away games but have the consolation of probably securing a Europa League place through UEFA’s fair-play option.
Tottenham‘s Champions League hopes were extinguished in embarrassing fashion as they lost 3-0 to Stoke, their heaviest defeat against the Potters in 80 years. They were already two goals down when Vlad Chiriches was sent off for a second yellow card.
However Manchester United moved within touching distance of a Champions League return with Saturday night’s 2-1 win at Crystal Palace, a welcome turn of fortune after three defeats and despite injuries and illness.
Juan Mata opened the scoring from a penalty controversially awarded for handball by Scott Dann only for Jason Puncheon to level from a free kick which caught David De Gea out of position.
Marouane Fellaini regained the lead for United with his sixth goal of term after a collision between Palace keeper Julian Speroni and defender Damien Delaney.
Louis Van Gaal conceded United were fortunate. He said: “Football is crazy. Compare how we played against Chelsea, Everton and West Bromwich with this game and it was not our best match. But you win and that is also the beauty of football
“What I have seen today is a fighting spirit of my team and that I have said to my players: ‘When you fight like you have fought today, we are difficult to beat.’”