Jermain Defoe’s penalty ended 10-man Sunderland’s winless start to the season as the Black Cats came from behind to triumph 2-1 at Bournemouth on Saturday.
A familiar story looked set to unfold after the visitors – with under-fire manager David Moyes serving a touchline ban following a misconduct charge – fell behind to Dan Gosling’s 11th-minute goal.
But Victor Anichebe marked his first start for the club by breaking his 546-day top-flight goal drought before the break before playing a pivotal role in Sunderland’s unlikely winner.
With Steven Pienaar having seen red for a second booking, Sunderland were firmly on the back foot when Anichebe was fouled in the box by Adam Smith and Defoe made no mistake from 12 yards.
Eddie Howe’s side had already spurned glorious openings as Junior Stanislas and Jack Wilshere failed to find the target from inside the box, while substitute Benik Afobe was also wayward with his side trailing.
It was a nervy final 15 minutes for Moyes’ men, but they dug deep to inflict Bournemouth’s first home league defeat since the opening-game loss to Manchester United.
There was an early warning shot from the hosts when Harry Arter stung the palms of Jordan Pickford in the 10th minute, as in the next attack the deadlock was broken.
Stanislas fed Smith, who delivered across goal for the returning Gosling to convert in unorthodox fashion with his stomach from a few yards out.
A lack of anticipation and movement from Defoe and Anichebe ensured Duncan Watmore’s teasing ball across the six-yard box came to nothing in the 20th minute, and Josh King almost made them pay as his low near-post effort was well kept out by Pickford.
But then the Black Cats hit back. Anichebe’s strength and persistence opened up a shooting opportunity from an acute angle and he blasted into the right-hand corner to level it up.
There was still time in the first half for Watmore to be denied by an offside flag after prodding home Billy Jones’ centre.
Sunderland were on top in the early stages after the break and Didier Ndong’s curling effort had Artur Boruc scrambling to keep it out.
That was a wake-up call for the Cherries, who themselves came close when Wilshere’s rasping drive called Pickford into action again.
Referee Mike Dean took centre stage just before the hour mark as Pienaar, booked just before half-time for a foul on Wilshere, picked up a second yellow after a challenge on Stanislas.
Moyes looked on in disbelief from the stands, perhaps still reflecting on last week’s 4-1 loss to Arsenal, when Sunderland had been holding them 1-1 heading into the final 20 minutes.
Bournemouth should have taken the lead a couple of minutes later, but Stanislas slid wide when well placed, while Wilshere was similarly wasteful soon after.
Those misses came back to haunt them when Dean awarded a spot-kick after Smith tangled with Anichebe, and Defoe netted his sixth of the season.
Howe’s charges pressed for a leveller, but it was simply not their day – as evidenced when Pickford denied King with a stunning one-handed save at the death – and while the scale of the task facing Sunderland remain
s significant, the Premier League’s great escape artists are showing signs of life.
Key Opta stats:
– David Moyes has won his first Premier League game since a victory against Newcastle in April 2014 – 945 days ago.
– Jack Wilshere made his 100th Premier League start, over six and a half years since his first (Feb 2010 for Bolton v Man City).
– Adam Smith has provided more assists this season than any other Premier League defender (3).
– Victor Anichebe became only the third player to score a goal this season for Sunderland in the top-flight – also Jermain Defoe (6) and Patrick van Aanholt (2).
– Steven Pienaar has been sent off four times in the Premier League, all while playing under David Moyes (3 for Everton, 1 for Sunderland).
– Jermain Defoe has netted 11 away goals in the Premier League in 2016, a haul bettered only by Sergio Aguero with 15 (Harry Kane also has 11).
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