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TOP FIVE: Sunderland Boxing Day bangers of the last twenty years; Which one was best?

The festive period has provided some memorable results in fairly recent times. Here’s our best Boxing Day games of the last 20 years.

Everton v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

5. Sunderland 1-0 Manchester City - 2012

Remember that weird run of 1-0 wins we had against the team from the blue side of Manchester? It seems like so long ago, doesn’t it? It almost became routine. Every year City would come to the Stadium of Light in terrific form, we would be languishing in the lower reaches of the Premier League, yet somehow we’d score out of absolutely nothing and defend like lions for ninety minutes - and in 2012 it was no different.

Sunderland v Manchester City - Premier League
Matthew Kilgallon stops Sergio Aguero.
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

After the game Roberto Mancini commented that his team “wouldn’t bother turning up next year” such was the frequency of City’s defeats on Wearside. He was right too, as we went on to beat them at home the following season.

We’d generally refer to type and get beat off someone rubbish within days of dispatching City, but our third successive home victory against them on Boxing Day means this game sneaks into the top five.


4. Sunderland 2-0 Leeds United - 2007

When Leeds visited Wearside on Boxing Day 2007, the Roy Keane effect was in full swing as a capacity crowd roared the Lads onto our fifth win in nine games.

Sunderland v Queens Park Rangers
Grant Leadbitter sealed the win with a 81st minute clincher.
Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

Dennis Wise’s Yorkshireman were never in the game as a dominant Sunderland side continued their improvement under Keano, piling the misery on a dismal Leeds team with a routine 2-0 victory.

A goal early on in the second half from David Connolly was complemented by another from local lad Grant Leadbitter in a win the manager would describe as “thoroughly deserved”.

The game was a clinical affair and pushed the Lads into the second half of the campaign firmly in search of promotion.


3. Sunderland 2-0 Bradford City - 1997

The Stadium of Light’s first ever Boxing Day match was a one to remember as Peter Reid’s side moved into fifth position and recorded five victories in a row with a dominant win over Chris Kamara’s Bradford.

Super Kev opened the scoring in the eleventh minute, heading home a beautiful cross from Nicky Summerbee, before Allan Johnston rolled in the second just after half time.

Allan Johnston celebrates
Magic Johnston lived up to his nickname on Boxing Day 1997.
Getty Images

It was a period on Wearside where we seemed to blow away any side that dare show up to the Stadium of Light and this was no exception as Bradford were put to bed within fifty eight minutes.

We’d not lose another home game all season, ending the campaign on 90 points and in third place.


2. Everton 0-1 Sunderland - 2013

“Things can only get better...” sang the away contingent at Goodison Park as we exited the year bottom of the league under the stewardship of Gustavo Poyet.

We hadn’t won on Merseyside since 1997 and had only won once against the Toffees in our previous eighteen meetings, so our expectations going into the game on Merseyside were low.

Everton v Sunderland - Premier League
Ki dispatches the penalty.
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

That all changed twenty five minutes into the first half as Leon Osman gifted Sunderland a golden opportunity. The 32-year-old's poor back pass let in Ki, and the South Korean fell under a Tim Howard challenge as he attempted to round the Everton keeper.

Out came the red card for the USMNT international, followed by the South Korean dispatching the penalty beyond substitute Joel Robles to move the Lads into a winning position.

What followed was an avalanche of attempts on the Sunderland goal as ten man Everton dominated the game. That being said, not one of twenty five attempts managed to get past man of the match Vito Mannone and we finally took three points home from Merseyside.

Oh... and we had Valetin Roberge and Modibo Diakite at centre half. Football is mental.


1. Bradford City 1-4 Sunderland - 2000

Much like Highlander, there can only be one, and the winner of the best Boxing Day victory of the last twenty years goes to this thumping victory at Valley Parade.

A Kevin Phillips inspired Sunderland destroyed relegation-threatened Bradford on Boxing Day in 2000 as the clinical forward hit a stunning second half hat-trick to secure three points.

An Elvis Impersonator and Kevin Phillips
The King salutes the King.

Sunderland legend Super Kev was saluted on the pitch by Elvis himself and he even managed to miss a penalty as the Lads jumped to third place and into Champions League contention.

Niall Quinn’s header had put us in the lead just before half time and despite a Robbie Blake goal fifteen minutes from time, we managed to head home to the North East with another three points in our sack.

The 4-1 win at Valley Parade was quickly followed by a memorable 2-2 comeback at Arsenal, meaning it was a festive period to remember at the turn of the century. Depressed yet?