Sunderland won a competitive home match for the first time in 364 days as a 1-0 victory over Fulham moved them out of the Championship’s bottom three.
Teenage striker Josh Maja scored a memorable match-winner just five minutes after being introduced for his league debut.
Elsewhere, Cardiff City maintained the pressure on leaders Wovles with a 1-0 win over Hull City, while top six hopefuls Aston Villa and Sheffield United invited pressure from below.
Birmingham City, meanwhile, slipped to the foot of the table with a 2-1 loss at home to QPR.
1 – Sunderland have won a competitive home match for the first time in 364 days, with their previous victory coming on December 17th 2016 (vs Watford). Party.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 16, 2017
BLACK CATS BREAK CURSE
Sunderland needed something special to provide salvation at the Stadium of Light and they finally got it in the shape of 18-year-old striker Maja.
Called from the bench in the 72nd minute, Maja rewarded Chris Coleman’s faith by finishing clinically with his left foot just five minutes later.
As well as narrowly preventing the ignominy of a year-long winless run, the goal moved the Black Cats a point clear of the drop zone and left Fulham eight points adrift of the play-off places.
Boss on hard-fought point
— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) December 9, 2017
BAMBA BOOSTS BLUEBIRDS’ BID
Cardiff remain safely nestled in the top two after Sol Bamba’s second-half header inflicted a first defeat on Hull boss Nigel Adkins.
The victory maintained the four-point gap to third-placed Bristol City, who edged Nottingham Forest 2-1 courtesy of first-half efforts from Marlon Pack and Joe Bryan.
Kieran Dowell threatened to spark a comeback by cutting the deficit soon after the restart, but it was not enough to deny the Robins a fourth consecutive league success.
Marlon Pack shares his delight after netting his first goal of the season. #BRCvFOR
— Bristol City FC (@bcfctweets) December 16, 2017
The top four is rounded off by Derby County after they saw off the challenge of Aston Villa 2-0 at Pride Park.
Andreas Weimann, against his former club, and Johnny Russell scored to dash Steve Bruce’s hopes of moving above the Rams.
CHASING PACK BUILD PRESSURE
Like Villa, Sheffield United are on the brink of dropping out of the top six following a 1-0 defeat to a Preston North End side that now trail them by two points.
Jordan Hugill volleyed home just prior to the hour to give his team a fourth league win in five as the door also opened to Leeds United and Ipswich Town.
Seventh-placed Leeds had Pontus Jansson to thank for heading in the only goal in a 1-0 victory against Norwich City, while Callum Connolly and Joe Garner gave the Tractor Boys a 2-0 win at home to Reading.
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