Sunderland 2 Leicester City 1: Black Cats just a point off safety after superb win over champions

The Sunderland players celebrate
The Sunderland players celebrate

Sunderland have moved to within a point of safety after a superb 2-1 win over champions Leicester City at the Stadium of Light.

An own goal from Robert Huth and Jermain Defoe's eighth of the season had put Sunderland 2-0 up with 13 minutes to play.

But Foxes sub Shinji Okazaki halved the deficit in the 80th minute to set up a tension-filled finale.

Sunderland held firm though, thanks in part to a stunning last-minute save from Jordan Pickford to seal the victory. Sunderland's third in four Premier League games.

It moves the Black Cats up to third-bottom and now just a point off safety.

Victory came at a cost, though, with Duncan Watmore stretchered off and both Steven Pienaar and Jason Denayer subbed at half-time.

David Moyes made one change to his Sunderland team for the visit of Leicester City, with Papy Djilobodji recalled to the starting line-up.

The Senegal defender missed the Liverpool game through suspension but was back in the side in place of skipper John O'Shea, with fit-again Jan Kirchhoff on the bench.

Sunderland were dominant in the opening five minutes, with Champions Leicester rattled.

Duncan Watmore had a low effort saved by Ron-Robert Zieler while Victor Anichebe's prodded effort was deflected wide by Foxes skipper Wes Morgan.

Papy Djilobodji chanced his arm with a volley from distance, his effort going well wide while Watmore was heavily involved again nine minutes in but his effort was wide.

Sunderland were well on top but Leicester's threat on the break was evident.

Lamine Kone across well to clear the danger before Jamie Vardy sneaked on the end of Riyad Mahrez's cross.

Leicester looked dangerous on the break but Sunderland continued to carve out the better openings.

Anichebe, under pressure from Morgan, brought the ball down but couldn't get a clean strike on the ball.

Replays showed Morgan had pulled him back, Sunderland denied a penalty by referee Andre Marriner.

With 17 minutes on the clock, Anichebe turned provider but the ball was just behind Defoe and he couldn't get a clean strike on it.

It was an open, entertaining game. Billy Jones brilliantly played in Watmore but the England Under-21 forward blazed his effort wide.

Jamie Vardy looked a threat up the other end, constantly on Kone's shoulder but the Sunderland defence were doing well.

Vardy twice nodded wide, once from a corner and then from a free-kick. The pace relented as the half wore on after a frantic start to proceedings.

Albrighton, busy down the left-hand flank for Leicester, lofted a long ball into the box towards Vardy who had stolen a yard. His header looped wide of the goal, though.

There was a lengthy stoppage just before half-time following a nasty clash of heads involving Albrighton and Pienaar, the South African midfielder coming off worse.

Both required treatment but were both able to carry on after a two-minute delay.

Vardy's half chances for the Champions aside, Sunderland had carved out the better chances and should have gone in leading at the break.

Half-time: Sunderland 0 Leicester City 0

Moyes was forced into a double change at half-time, with Pienaar - who looked groggy as he left the pitch at half-time - and Denayer taken off.

Seb Larsson and Jan Kirchhoff on for the Black Cats, Kirchhoff's first appearance since injuring his hamstring against West Bromwich Albion in October.

The changes disrupted Sunderland's fluency, with Leicester starting the brighter of the two teams. Islam Slimani should have opened the scoring after 54 minutes.

Albrighton's low ball in from the left was dummied by Vardy, Slimani's effort blocked by Djilobodji. A crucial block too.

Sunderland eventually took the lead that their earlier dominance deserved in the 63rd minute.

A Larsson corner was headed goalbound by Kirchhoff with fellow German Robert Huth bundling the ball into his own net as the Stadium of Light erupted.

Moments later Sunderland should have had a penalty but for the second time, Marriner waved away the strong appeals.

Replays showed Danny Simpson clearly made contact with van Aanholt as he burst past him.

A few minutes later the Dutch left-back was booked for simulation, again sparking anger on the terraces. Zieler then made a smart, full-stretch save to palm away Defoe's fierce effort.

Sunderland had their swagger back. And doubled their lead in the 77th minute.

Anichebe rolled the ball into Watmore, his effort was blocked and fell perfectly into the path of Defoe who fired home first time. His eighth goal of the campaign, so far.

Leciester hit back, though, and within three minutes had halved the deficit. Two of their subs combined, with Okazaki getting across his man at the front post to convert Demarai

Gray's cross.

Sunderland were dealt another injury blow in the 83rd minute.

Watmore, who was enjoying a productive second half, carried off on a stretcher after jarring his left ankle after being fouled by Christian Fuchs. Javier Manquillo on in his place.

It was a tense finale, with Marriner adding six minutes of added-on time after the earlier injury to Watmore.

The tension was unbearable, with Pickford making a superb save to deny Morgan after pinball in the Sunderland penalty area following a Leicester corner.

Sunderland held on for another precious three points to take them third-bottom and within a point of safety.

Full-time: Sunderland 2 Leicester City 1

Sunderland (4-3-3): Pickford; Jones, Kone, Djilobodji, van Aanholt; Pienaar (Kirchhoff, 45), Ndong, Denayer (Larsson, 45); Watmore (Manquillo, 83), Anichebe, Defoe (C).

Subs Not Used: Mannone, O'Shea, Januzaj, Khazri.

Booked: Van Aanholt (68), Larsson (72), Djilobodji (78)

Goals: Huth OG (64), Defoe (77)

Leicester City (4-4-2): Zieler, Simpson, Huth, Morgan (c), Fuchs, Mahrez (Gray, 73), Amartey, King, Albrighton (Musa, 73), Slimani (Okazaki, 68), Vardy.

Subs Not Used: Hamer, Hernández, Schlupp, Mendy.

Booked: Fuchs (83)

Goals: Okazaki (80)

Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)

Attendance: 39,725