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v Wolfsburg

Thursday 18 September K.O. 20:05

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Stadium of Light | 20th April 2013 15:00

Sunderland v Everton

Everton's European hopes were dealt a serious blow by resurgent Sunderland.

New Black Cats boss Paolo Di Canio was basking in the glory of a win over rivals Newcastle and that created a jubilant atmosphere at the Stadium of Light.

The mercurial Italian had clearly been doing his homework on the Blues as well, and set his team up to harass the Toffees in possession at all times.

Victor AnichebeAnichebe tussles for possession

Those tactics had already helped his charges emerge as the dominant side before Stephane Sessegnon scored on the stroke of half-time - capitalising on slack Everton passing before rifling low past Tim Howard.

The visitors were without Phil Jagielka at the heart of their defence but they did have Leon Osman back after a groin strain. And from an advanced midfield role he caused a rare moment of concern for the home fans when he charged down Simon Mignolet's clearance.

From that point though Di Canio's buoyant Black Cats took over. They were sharp in attack and aggressive in defence, denying Everton time to play.

Soon Howard had to save well from Danny Graham after hesitation from Jagielka's deputy John Heitinga then Marouane Fellaini almost headed in Kevin Mirallas' cross at the near post.

Fellaini puts his body on the line

Sebastian Larsson sent the first of his three first half free-kicks over after that - with Everton's only effort in response a dipping left foot drive from Mirallas which was deflected wide.

Swedish set-piece expert Larsson's dead ball efforts were getting closer and on 40 minutes he flashed one just wide of Howard's left-hand post.

The next one was closer still and required the USA custodian to claw the dipping effort away from inside the opposite post.

But the American's fingertips couldn't deny Sessegnon seconds later as his low drive found the corner of the net after careless play from Leighton Baines.

In a proactive half-time switch David Moyes brought Nikica Jelavic on for Darron Gibson but the home side showed no signs of sitting back and protecting their slender advantage as Danny Rose drove an effort wide after surging forward from left-back.

Finally Everton began to carve out some chances and when Mirallas' deep corner found Jelavic at the back post 10 minutes into the second period, the Croat directed his effort off target.

He was making a difference though and a difficult headed chance drifted wide on the hour before he redirected Fellaini's low drive only for Mignolet to gather.

The Blues were becoming more of a threat and Anichebe was next to fire off target.

Moyes rolled the dice with a double switch, sending Steven Naismith and Ross Barkley on for Osman and Anichebe.

One of the more bizarre moments of the Premier League season then ensued with just over 10 minutes to go.

Moyes urges on his charges

Larsson overhit a back-pass from the half-way line and such was its trajectory that Mignolet was forced to catch it - inside his area - to prevent a certain goal.

A yellow card for the Belgian glovesman was the punishment, with Everton handed an indirect free-kick 12 yards out.

With every player bar Howard inside the area, it was no surprise that Baines' drive was blocked.

Things became frenetic in the closing minutes as Howard denied Adam Johnson and Jelavic claimed a penalty - the denial of which had Moyes out of his technical area and halfway down the touchline.

But his side couldn't forge a chance to level it and a place in Europe next season now looks a big ask.

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