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Sunderland v Leicester City - Premier League

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On This Day (3 December 2016): Sunderland claim third league win in four under David Moyes!

No, this isn’t a mistake. It really happened.

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

It’s difficult to imagine, isn’t it? Three Premier League wins in four under David Moyes. The same, energy-sucking, negative apology of a manager who haunted the Stadium of Light for a nightmarish 10 months.

But it’s true.

Yes, ok, we’d gone 10 Premier League games without a win – collecting two points – prior to that first victory away at Bournemouth, but nine points from 12 (and the single loss an away trip to Anfield) seemed to suggest things were looking up.

It seemed as though Moyes’s tactics of 1. telling everyone they were shit and in a relegation battle on day one, and 2. picking out names from a hat each week had finally worked. A front three of Victor Anichebe, Jermain Defoe and Duncan Watmore looked a genuine threat, and it seemed – at last – things were looking up.

With confidence from the previous game at the Stadium of Light – a 3-0 win over Hull – Sunderland started the game on the front foot, Watmore forcing a good save from Leicester keeper Zieler, before brave blocks from Wes Morgan denied Anichebe and Defoe goalscoring opportunities.

Defoe uncharacteristically missed a chance with only the keeper to beat, while at the other end, Vardy headed wide of Pickford’s goal, and Slimani’s effort was blocked by Djilobodji.

The game turned at half time, with the introductions of Jan Kirchhoff for loanee Denayer, and Seb Larsson for Moyes’ son, Steven Pienaar.

Big Jan had been pivotal for the team under Sam Allardyce – as had fellow January signing Wahbi Khazri – but both had found themselves on the sidelines under Moyes. Kirchhoff primarily through injury (Allardyce had managed his fitness superbly, Moyes... didn’t) Khazri because, well, Moyes didn’t rate him.

That’s Wahbi Khazri, ladies and gentlemen.

Anyway, the subs combined to make an almost-immediate impact, Kirchhoff heading home Larsson’s corner – via Robert Huth.

Sunderland v Leicester City - Premier League
Jan celebrates the opener
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Jermain Defoe added a second about 15 minutes later, finishing well after Watmore’s effort was blocked.

2-0 up at home to the champions... it was never going to be that easy, was it?

Absolutely not.

Okazaki scored past Pickford to half the lead, and then came the moment that in hindsight extinguished any hope we had.

Duncan Watmore, who’d been impressive over the past eight months – first under Allardyce and now Moyes – and looked as though he was developing into a player with a real Premier League future, suffered a cruciate ligament injury as a result of a tackle with Leicester’s defender Fuchs. Watmore’s season was ended – and so, it turned out, was ours.

Pickford made a stunning late save to preserve the points, but it was brief respite, as Moyes, pitifully, managed the club out of the Premier League.

Sunderland: Pickford, Jones, van Aanholt, Denayer (Kirchhoff 45), Kone, Djilobodji, Watmore (Manquillo 85), Pienaar (Larsson 45) Defoe, Ndong, Anichebe. Subs not used: Mannone, O’Shea, Khazri, Januzaj.

Leicester: Zieler, Simpson, Fuchs, Amartey, Morgan, Huth, Mahrez (Musa), King, Vardy, Slimani (Okazaki 68), Albrighton (Gray). Subs not used: Hamer, Hernandez, Schlupp, Mendy.

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