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Football | Barclays Premier League

Steven Fletcher and Craig Gardner © Action Images

Saints slip up as Sunderland steal points



Southampton's recent revival after a dismal start to the season came to an abrupt halt at home to fellow-strugglers Sunderland as they slumped to a 1-0 defeat on Saturday.

Despite dominating for long periods, Saints could not break down a stubborn Sunderland defence and the large band of travelling supporters left St Mary's happy as the Black Cats moved up to 15th.

Southampton, meanwhile, are fourth-from-bottom and only escape the relegation places on goal difference from Wigan.

Sunderland took the lead three minutes before the break against the run of play and with a goal which had more than a suspicion of good fortune about it.

Adam Johnson broke free down the left and cut the ball back to Stephane Sessegon, who appeared to mishit the ball across the box and out-of-sorts striker Steven Fletcher suddenly popped up in the right place to lash the ball past Kelvin Davis.

Southampton had looked the better side with Uruguayan record signing Gaston Ramirez, ably deputising for injured captain Adam Lallana and running the midfield, producing a cunning 25-yard shot just before the half-hour which caused Sunderland 'keeper Simon Mignolet all kinds of problems.

Saints talisman Rickie Lambert also had Mignolet tied up in knots with an early free kick which fortunately for the visitors flashed narrowly wide.

Southampton's best chance, though, fell to Portuguese defender Jose Fonte midway through the second half after the home side had built up some momentum.

Fonte's header from a corner was goalbound until Jack Colback flicked it clear at the last moment.

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