Sunderland 1-0 Everton

Paolo Di Canio

Sunderland took another step towards securing Premier League survival as manager Paolo Di Canio marked his first match at the Stadium of Light with victory over Everton.

Stephane Sessegnon scored the game's only goal just before half-time, stabbing a shot beyond Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard.

The visitors pressed in the second half, with substitute Nikica Jelavic's header saved before Leighton Baines's late free-kick was blocked.

But Sunderland held firm to secure a second successive win under Di Canio.

The Italian, who last Sunday guided Sunderland to a first victory in 13 years at Newcastle, had said he would not be paraded in front of the home crowd prior to kick off, instead choosing to keep the focus on his team and the game.

True to his word, his appearance from the tunnel was subdued, shaking hands with Everton boss David Moyes before taking his seat in the dugout.

The home fans were clearly still on a high from last week's 3-0 derby win at Newcastle, with some commemorating that result by arriving at the Stadium of Light in T-shirts displaying a cartoon image of a celebrating Di Canio.

Their mood was further heightened as Sunderland attacked Everton from the outset, fashioning a couple of good chances inside the first 15 minutes.

Danny Graham's powerful effort from just inside the area forced a good save from Howard before Seb Larsson sent a free-kick whistling just over the crossbar.

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Sunderland still not safe - Di Canio

Everton, meanwhile, enjoyed plenty of forays into the Sunderland half and gained numerous corners but still rarely threatened. Their best moment of the half was Kevin Mirallas's mazy run towards the edge of the area, which ended with his shot being deflected wide.

The pace of the game settled down as half time approached but a mistake by Baines allowed Sunderland to snatch the lead in added time.

The full back carelessly passed the ball to Sunderland's Larsson, who then sent Sessegnon racing towards goal and the Beninese forward's low shot bobbled just under Howard's outstretched arm and into the net.

Everton boss David Moyes, conscious of the fact that defeat would dent his side's Champions League hopes, brought on Jelavic at the start of the second half and the change had the desired effect as the game opened up considerably.

Jelavic headed wide just after the hour before the Croatian striker flicked Marouane Fellaini's low shot straight at Mignolet.

Sunderland had a lucky escape late on when Larsson inexplicably attempted an extravagant backpass which caught Mignolet unaware and the Belgian had to grab the ball to prevent it from sailing into the net.

Everton were subsequently awarded a free-kick eight yards from goal and Mignolet was booked, but Baines's low effort was blocked and eventually cleared.

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Sunderland 1-0 Everton: David Moyes - Toffees deserved a point

The visitors poured forward in the final few minutes but the afternoon belonged to Sunderland, who held on to record a victory that will go a long way to preserving their Premier League status.

Everton manager David Moyes:

"We won't get a top four position. Every game was becoming a must-win and that will be difficult now.

"It was an important game for us and we could not take anything from it.

"We did not play well. We had an awful lot of pressure in the second half but we maybe didn't have the quality to get the goal."

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