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Monday 12 December 2011

O'Neill begins Sunderland reign with win

Black Cats manager sees team earn last-gasp victory against Blackburn

Martin O'Neill celebrates picking up a vital three points in his first match as Sunderland boss

Sunderland 2-1 Blackburn

Sebastian Larsson's injury-time free-kick gave Martin O'Neill the perfect start to his Sunderland managerial career with a dramatic victory over Blackburn at the Stadium of Light.

The Swede curled in a superb right-foot strike from outside the area in the 92nd minute to seal three vital points for the hosts, who move out of the relegation zone and into 16th place in the Barclays Premier League.

In contrast, the defeat heaps further pressure on Blackburn, who remain in 19th place, one point above bottom club Bolton.

The visitors began brightly and were 1-0 up within 17 minutes when Simon Vukcevic latched on to Keiren Westwood's parry when the Sunderland keeper partially saved a powerful Chris Samba shot.

A brilliant Paul Robinson save denied Kieron Richardson a certain goal as Rovers maintained their lead into the half-time interval.

Rovers boss Steve Kean was forced into changes following injuries to full-backs Gael Givet and Michel Salgado, giving Sunderland fresh impetus to attack.

And their endeavours were rewarded in the 84th minute when David Vaughan smashed an unstoppable left-footed strike past Robinson.

And Larsson stepped up to convert from the set-piece when Mauro Formica was penalised for handball just outside his penalty area in the 92nd minute.

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Key Points

  • Sebastian Larsson winner hands O'Neill dream start
  • Sunderland came from behind to win late on
  • Blackburn remain second from bottom in table