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Match Report: Sunderland 0-2 Hull City - Cats Mauled By Tigers

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Steve Bruce's return to Sunderland saw him walk away the victor after Wes Brown's early red card saw Sunderland struggle nearly all afternoon.

Chris Brunskill

The game started disastrously for Sunderland with Phil Bardsley v2.0 reverting to Phil Bardsley v1.0 and losing the ball cheaply which set Shane Long in the clear to bear down on goal.

Wes Brown in coming across to do something to stop the Irish striker getting a shot on goal dived in rashly and was shown the red card with just three minutes on the clock.

The only consolation was the fact it was right on the edge of the box and not inside it, which meant only a weak strike at goal from Tom Huddlestone, easily gathered by Vito Mannone.

Gus Poyet relented to make changes while he figured things out. Liam Bridcutt sat in defence in the place of brown before Santiago Vergini was brought on. Fabio Borini the unlucky man to go off.

Vergini's first touch was almost a goal. From a freekick lofted to the back post Marcos Alonso acrobatically flicked the ball back into the danger zone, however the Argentinian's touch went wide of the mark.

With quarter of an hours on the clock though the visitors had the lead.

Some nice play from Nikica Jelavic teed up Jake Livermore to fire powerfully towards goal, but found his effort met with a strong hand by Mannone who tipped the ball over the bar.

From the resulting corner though Jozy Altidore cleared, seemingly having not heard the call of Mannone who was sure to gather the ball. The American's clearance barely made the edge of the box before Livermore popped it back in the mixer where Shane Long was able to divert the ball in the back of the net.

From then on Hull were in the ascendancy, and enjoyed a solid 20-minutes or so of pressure on the Sunderland goal. The home side barely able to get out of their own half let alone organise themselves.

David Meyler saw a shot charged down before an unmarked Jelavic got on the end of a Liam Rosenior cross and struck the post with Mannone beaten.

Hull were once again denied by the post when Shane Long fashioned a chance for himself. Having been shown inside he welcomed the Sunderland defence doing so and struck a vicious effort off the post from 25-yards out.

Bardsley redeemed himself somewhat with a crucial clearance to deny Jelavic a tap in at the far post from yet another Rosenior cross.

Eventually though Sunderland found their way into the visitors half. There was a distinct lack of strikes at goal but still the pressure was some good relief for an over-worked defence.

An Adam Johnson run dazzled and caused panic in the area but the ball just wouldn't wriggle it's way through to Jozy Altidore at the far post. Marcos Alonso had a pair of poor efforts, one an air-kick with the other a very easy gather for Steve Harper.

Sunderland's best chance of the half came on the stroke of half time though man of the moment, Adam Johnson.

The move started with a nice chip forward by Vergini into the path of a forward-rushing Bardsley. While he didn't win the ball, he did enough to force the defender into clearing only as far as a centrally-placed Johnson who volleyed powerfully towards goal and had Harper slightly worried before clutching onto the ball.

Hull started the second half with a good spell of pressure, while Sunderland remained at sixes and sevens at the back.

A Tom Huddlsetone freekick was cleared, while a John O'Shea mistake was fortunate to go for a corner rather than anything worse. From the corner substitute Robert Koren blasted over the top.

Sunderland created a good chance when Liam Bridcutt's ball found Ki Sung-Yeung lurking round the edge of the area, with the Korean's shot taking a wicked deflection that had Steve Harper scrambling across goal to push the ball wide for a corner.

On the hour Hull managed to get a second goal, once again in poor circumstances from a defensive point of view for Sunderland.

Maynor Figueroa's shot was blocked and took a big, looping deflection into the air and the penalty box. John O'Shea seemed to simply ignore it while Santiago Vergini chose to try and play a non-existent offside rather than make much of a challenge on an unmarked Nikica Jelavic who headed beyond Vito Mannone.

From then on the game just continued to ebb away from Sunderland. Fans and players alike seemingly resigned to defeat whilst Hull sat back and defended their lead.

Gus Poyet opted to give some game time to Craig Gardner and Connor Wickham, who on for Ki Sung-Yeung and Liam Bridcutt respectively to try and desperately salvage some pride from a rotten afternoon.

Chances were few and far between though. Even for the visitors who were reduced to long-range strikes. Maynor Figueroa with the most threatening of those which fell kindly for Mannone to gather as the game entered the final ten minutes.

Shane Long and a lively Sone Aluko both had half-chances to rub further salt in the wound but both failed to convert, while at the other end of the pitch Sunderland offered very little. The best chance being a Craig Gardner freekick which as is tradition was blasted straight into the wall.

Sunderland have few to blame but themselves for failing to get any points from a very winnable home game. Having shot themselves in the foot after just three minutes things never improved from then onward.

A harsh reminder that despite the Wembley jubilation and celebrations, the club remain perilously close to the drop zone.