Sunderland (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Southampton striker Manolo Gabbiadini punished struggling Sunderland with a double strike that inspired his side’s 4-0 victory at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
Gabbiadini was on target twice before half-time to maintain his impressive form since his £14 million ($17 million, 16 million euros) move from Napoli in January.
Jason Denayer’s own goal and a Shane Long strike ensured Southampton cruised to only their second win in their last eight league games, ending a run of three successive defeats since they booked their place in the League Cup final.
Sunderland manager David Moyes plans to take his squad to New York for some team bonding next week, but the flight across the Atlantic promises to be a gloomy one.
Moyes’ men are rooted to the bottom of the table after seeing their two-game unbeaten run ended and they sit two points from safety with 13 games left to avoid relegation.
Buoyed by their 4-0 win at fellow strugglers Crystal Palace last weekend, Moyes’ team were hoping to climb out of the relegation zone.
But they had won two consecutive games only once this season and they struggled to find any rhythm on a freezing, rain-lashed afternoon on Wearside.
Foreshadowing the danger to come for Sunderland, Gabbiadini had an early sight of goal as the Italian shot wide from the edge of the penalty area.
Gabbiadini threatened again when he beat Sunderland’s offside trap and crossed for Cedric Soares on the edge of the area but the full-back fired wide.
It was a warning Sunderland failed to heed and they were punished as Gabbiadini opened the scoring in the 30th minute.
Ryan Bertrand whipped in a teasing cross from the left and as Gabbiadini and Sunderland defender Lamine Kone challenged for the ball, it deflected past Vito Mannone at the near post.
After keeping clean sheets in their previous two games, Sunderland were being torn apart by Gabbiadini’s clever movement and he doubled Southampton’s lead on the stroke of half-time.
If Gabbiadini’s first goal was slightly fortunate, there was no doubting the quality of his second as he took Dusan Tadic’s pass and executed a sharp turn that left John O’Shea and Lamine Kone flat-footed before slotting past Mannone.
Moyes sent on Steven Pienaar and Fabio Borini, but the changes made little difference and Gabbiadini was only denied a hat-trick by Mannone, who held the striker’s close-range effort in the second half.
By the time Didier Ndong had Sunderland’s first shot on target in the 67th minute, it was already apparent there would be no way back for the hosts.
Their misery was complete when Denayer turned Long’s cross into his own net in the 89th minute before the Saints forward struck himself moments later.
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