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Wolves Beat Sunderland 2-1 in League; Stoke Defeats Everton 1-0

Wolverhampton Wanderers rallied to beat Sunderland 2-1 yesterday and move four points clear of the relegation positions in English soccer’s Premier League.

Sunderland, which on Dec. 3 named Martin O’Neill as its new manager, will start his tenure one spot above the three-team drop zone after its seventh league defeat of the season. Eric Black was in temporary charge of the visitor yesterday.

Steven Fletcher scored twice for Wolves in the last 20 minutes after Kieran Richardson had given Sunderland the lead early in the second half. A Robert Huth goal secured a 1-0 win for Stoke City at Everton’s Goodison Park.

“It’s a massive result,” Fletcher told Sky Sports. “We knew it was a six pointer and going 1-0 down we took it on the chin but we showed we can come back.”

Wolves moves to 15th spot on 14 points, behind Swansea City on goal difference. Fulham has 12 points, Sunderland 11, Blackburn 10, with Bolton and Wigan on nine. Stoke is up to eighth after its win, two spots ahead of Everton.

Sunderland, which fired Steve Bruce on Nov. 30, is now winless in five matches.

Black Cats midfielders Stephane Sessegnon and Sebastian Larsson had shots saved in the first half at Molineux, with Sunderland keeper Keiren Westwood making a block from Stephen Hunt.

Seven minutes into the second half, Sunderland made a quick break as Wolves lost possession following a corner. Nicklas Bendtner flicked the ball to Sessegnon, who slipped in Richardson to power a shot past Wayne Hennessey.

Penalty Miss

Richardson blocked a shot on the line five minutes later to maintain his team’s lead, which should have been extended when Sunderland was awarded a penalty kick on 72 minutes. Larsson’s low effort was easily stopped by Hennessey and seconds later Fletcher headed into the net. Fletcher fired in a second goal on 81 minutes and Wolves held on to win.

“It’s a great victory and a great three points,” Wolves manager Mick McCarthy told Sky Sports. “I’m delighted with it.”

At Goodison Park, Huth got the only goal in the 15th minute, the center-back’s first of the season. It was only his team’s fourth strike in seven away matches.

Huth turned the ball into the net from close range after Dean Whitehead fired a low shot toward the goal. It ended a run of two straight wins for Everton.

Since Nov. 26, Stoke has won two league games and secured a draw to advance in the Europa League.

“It says a lot about the character and spirit that we have come through another tough three-game week with three excellent results,” Stoke manager Tony Pulis told reporters.

Manchester City tops the Premier League standings by five points from Manchester United after a 5-1 victory against Norwich City two days ago. United beat Aston Villa 1-0.

Third-place Tottenham defeated Bolton 3-0, Arsenal won 4-0 at Wigan, Chelsea beat Newcastle 3-0, Blackburn defeated Swansea 4-2, while Queens Park Rangers and West Bromwich Albion tied 1-1.

Fulham hosts Liverpool today.

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