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Sessegnon effort enough against Everton
Stephane Sessegnon's second goal in a week handed Paolo Di Canio a 1-0 victory over Everton in his first home game as Sunderland eased themselves further clear of relegation trouble.
The Benin international's strike in first-half injury time secured a second successive win for the Black Cats and their first over Everton in 20 attempts in all competitions.
But more importantly, it was well deserved as they dominated for long periods and limited the Champions League-chasing Toffees to a handful of half-chances in front of a delighted crowd of 44,614.
Midfielder Sebastian Larsson had earlier gone close with three free-kicks, the last of which Tim Howard had to claw out of his top corner. However, opposite number Simon Mignolet had little to do at the other end as Everton struggled to impose themselves in the face of a concerted assault by a Sunderland side rejuvenated by their new manager.
The hosts, who beat Newcastle 3-0 last week, could have been ahead with just five minutes gone when Danny Graham, still awaiting his first goal in a red and white shirt, ran on to Larsson's header over the top, but initially hampered by team-mate Sessegnon, he fired straight at Howard.
Sunderland threatened at regular intervals, most notably through Sweden international Larsson. He clipped the bar with a 12th-minute free-kick and whistled another just wide five minutes before the break before forcing a fine save with a third dead ball effort in the final minute of the half.
Everton were still re-grouping after that near miss when they fell behind with Larsson turning provider with a pass which allowed Sessegnon to set himself before drilling a low shot past Howard, who got a hand to the ball, but could not prevent it from creeping inside the post.
The home side came close to extending their lead seven minutes after the break when full-back Danny Rose burst forward and powered his way past Leon Osman before blasting a left-foot shot wide. Victor Anichebe had a chance to level seconds later, but he shot weakly straight at keeper Mignolet under pressure from Carlos Cuellar.
Substitute Nikica Jelavic glanced a 61st-minute header wide from a Leighton Baines cross and just could not react in time after Mignolet spilled Marouane Fellaini's snapshot. Anichebe fired over two minutes later with the Toffees enjoying their best spell of the game, and Kevin Mirallas drifted a 70th-minute cross dangerously towards the back post, but could not pick out a team-mate.
Larsson almost handed the visitors a way back into the game. Mignolet had little choice but to catch his overhit back-pass as it sailed over his head, and referee Phil Dowd awarded an indirect free-kick and booked the Belgian. Jelavic tapped the ball to Steven Pienaar, who stopped it for Baines to smash it towards goal, but a solid wall of defenders did its job.
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