Fuller lifts Stoke out of drop zone

Stoke climbed out of the English Premier League relegation zone as Ricardo Fuller's late goal secured a 1-0 win over Sunderland on Wednesday.

Fuller turned in a long throw from Rory Delap with 17 minutes to play at the Britannia Stadium to give Tony Pulis's side their third win of the season.

That was enough to catapult newly-promoted Stoke away from the bottom three and bring Sunderland crashing down to earth after their win over local rivals Newcastle at the weekend.

Bolstered by their derby victory, Sunderland were on the front foot in the early stages and Djibril Cisse forced Thomas Sorensen into a smothering save at the foot of his near post.

But Sunderland struggled to cope with the long throws from Delap throughout the match. His aerial assault led to Stoke's first chance after 11 minutes as Mamady Sidibe flicked on to Fuller, whose volley in the centre was blocked by Anton Ferdinand.

Fuller then curled a shot straight at Marton Fulop before Seyi Olofinjana forced the Hungarian keeper into action once more with a long range strike.

Sunderland's only real chance of the first half fell to Cisse, who headed Phil Bardsley's cross over the bar in the 35th minute. Kenwyne Jones started the second half after replacing fellow Trinidad and Tobago international Dwight Yorke at the break.

Stoke pressing
Stoke came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock on the hour after Danny Collins lost possession midway inside his own half.

Tom Soares broke down the right and put a low cross into the box that was collected at the near post by Fuller.

The Jamaican twisted and turned and eventually got a shot away which hit Bardsley before cannoning into Whitehead and bouncing across the six-yard box, where Sidibe just failed to connect with a diving header at the far post.

Stoke's endeavour was finally rewarded in the 73rd minute when Fuller rose to head his fourth goal of the season. The goal came from a Delap throw. Fuller outjumped Dean Whitehead to power the ball past Fulop from six yards.

Only the outside of a post prevented Fuller from scoring his and Stoke's second goal in the 79th minute.

Substitute Michael Tonge slid the ball down the blind side of Sunderland's defence. Fuller latched on to the pass and hit a low, first time shot that beat Fulop but not the upright.

Sorensen was called into action for the first time in the 84th minute but he was equal to the task, getting down low to block Jones' angled shot with a strong right hand before smothering the ball at the second attempt.