Writer: Michael Briggs
Date:Saturday March 20 2010
Hotshot Darren Bent scored two goals in 11 minutes in the first half to make it 21 goals for the season, before a fine Cameron Jerome goal looked to have made it a nervy finish to the game.
They had Craig Gordon to keep them in the game after pulling off world-class saves and putting in a potential man of the match performance.
But adopted right winger Frazier Campbell`s last minute strike sealed three very important points which now aids to the black cats relegation worries.
Late loanee Benjani would be given his first start since his snail paced move from mega rich Manchester City in place of the injured Kenwyne Jones, who failed a fitness test this morning.
In contrast, Sunderland would of thought this game would have been a tough one but when Bent put the ball in the back of the net just after five minutes, many thanks to the out of sorts Benjani, reflection of that would have been diminished.
The Black Cats would continue to press with, as Steve Bruce has said "greater freedom and style", and it would pay off.
The mesmerising Steed Malbranque played an exquisite cutting pass to put through Bent to turn his man and double his tally and lead, six minutes after his first.
Brummy Keeper Joe Hart prevented from Sunderland adding to the score line, first from a stinging shot from Campbell in the 15th minute then from Keiron Richardson`s dipping shot from outside of the area.
But the away side would not allow their heads to sink and almost hit Sunderland on the counter when Chucho`s powerful header was magnificently put onto the bar and out by Gordon.
At half time, The Lads must of thought they were home and dry but how wrong they would be.
In the second half it appeared that Sunderland did not show up and looked to have shot themselves in the foot.
Alex McLeish`s men were advancing, pressing and mostly they cut Steve Bruce`s men to pieces.
Growing nervousness could be sensed in the Stadium of Light and on the pitch and it resulted in the 'Blues` adding to that feeling when Jerome managed to break free and finally beat Gordon on the hour mark.
This signalled the introduction of Legend Kevin Phillips, who was greeted with a standing ovation and cries of 'Super Kevin Phillips` and he almost turned from friend to enemy when his header bounced on the roof of the net.
Inevitably, Birmingham's desperation for an equaliser left them vulnerable at the back and in the dying moments of the match Sunderland capitalised.
Jordan Henderson ran clear down the right and crossed for Campbell to slide in and finish allowing the home fans a huge collective sigh of relief.
Bruce now believes that his Sunderland side are starting to show character and has special praise for Gordon.
He said, "It was an unbelievable game of football. You know now why we age visibly in front of you with games like that.
"Yes, we got a goal in the last minute - but anyone who was at the game witnessed the two sides of us.
"We were very good in the first half but in the second we showed complacency, took our foot off the gas and all those other clichés.
"We have our goalkeeper to thank because he was absolutely sensational. Craig was brilliant against Manchester City and was great again today. He`s proved just what a good goalkeeper he is.
"It was nice to get off to a good start but I`m disappointed with the second half. The first half was terrific but there were warning signs just before the break.
"I wanted us to get going again straight from the restart but we simply didn`t get out of the blocks.
"We must erase that second-half performance. Some people have the 'it could only happen to us` mentality and I won`t keep accepting it. We must change that if we possibly can."
Date:Saturday March 20 2010
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