Sunderland scored three goals in the closing 12 minutes as they moved out of the English Premier League relegation zone with a 4-1 victory away to high-flyers Hull City at KC Stadium. The win also saw Sunderland, in caretaker boss Ricky Sbragia's second game in charge, complete back-to-back wins for the first time this season following last weekend's 4-0 thrashing of basement club West Brom.
Nick Barmby looked to have earned Hull a point with his first goal of the season in the 19th minute to cancel out Steed Malbranque's stunning opener nine minutes earlier. But after the break, Hull manager Phil Brown was a helpless spectator as his team conceded three more goals.
Sunderland were ahead again in the 78th minute when former Manchester United midfielder Kieran Richardson's shot deflected in off Kamil Zayatte for an own goal. Moments later Sam Ricketts was sent-off for his second bookable offence. When Kenywne Jones made it 3-1 six minutes from time there was no way back for the home side, who conceded a fourth in the dying seconds to Djibril Cisse.
Hull have become the surprise package of the Premier League season and were looking to extend their unbeaten run to six games. It was the visitors who made the better start, even though Hull wasted the first chance to break the stalemate when Nyron Mosworthy's poor clearing header fell straight to Barmby in the fifth minute. The former England international had time to take aim at Marton Fulop's goal but could only drag his shot wide.
Five minutes later Sunderland took the lead with a sublime goal which stunned the home supporters into silence. Andy Reid played the overlapping Danny Collins into space on the left flank. When he picked out Malbranque on the edge of the penalty area, there seemed only one thing on his mind. While the Hull defence stood and watched the French midfielder blazed an unstoppable drive past Boaz Myhill and into the top corner.
Sunderland's lead lasted just a matter of minutes as Hull showed again the fighting spirit that has defined their season. Myhill's long punt up field was flicked-on by Zayatte to Michael Turner. The defender tried to stab the ball past Fulop, but was denied by a fine save. The loose ball reached Barmby, who buried his shot into the back of an open goal. Barmby, who made his 500th league appearance earlier this month, almost put Hull ahead two minutes later but his shot was blocked by Anton Ferdinand. Moments later Turner's floated header landed on the roof of the net.
Fulop produced a fine save to keep out Geovanni's curling free kick in the 32nd minute. Hull were almost punished for not taking advantage of their dominance seven minutes before the interval. Jones found Malbranque in acres of space with a clever header but this time he failed to hit the target when he should have scored.
Richardson saw Myhill palm away his swerving strike in the 56th minute with Cisse, complete with bright green mohican haircut, unable to turn the loose ball home. Eight minutes later Cisse got the better of Zayatte and crossed for Jones, but the striker's close range shot clipped the outside of Myhill's left post.