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Di Canio's brave move after heavy Sunderland defeat
AS Sunderland's defeated players trudged to the dressing room after the final whistle their manager strode purposefully toward the away fans.
Even by Paolo Di Canio's standards this was a brave move after his team had suffered a comprehensive 3-0 defeat to West Brom; on the evidence of this morning's league table the second worst side in the division.
The Sunderland manager stood on the pitch making gestures to the away support which seemed to say: "keep your chins up" and" I am to blame." Or was he seeing if they wanted him to carry on? The reaction from the red and white faithful was a mixture of adoration and anger. Many more results like this and it will be the latter only.
In his pre match press conference the Sunderland coach dismissed suggestions that Stephane Sessegnon would mark his West Brom debut with a goal. Di Canio was forced to eat his words when the former Sunderland forward pounced to give the home side a first half lead.
Sessegnon started the move, playing a short pass to Morgan Amalfitano whose right wing cross met the head of the impressive Scott Sinclair. Keiren Westwood's parry was fired home by the Benin international who pointed to the heavens in a muted celebration.
Sessegnon played behind the main striker in the position he likes best, with other players doing most of the running for him, which he also likes.
It proved highly effective with The Baggies' wingers giving the visitor's defence a very testing afternoon.
By comparison, when Sunderland's supposed playmakers, such as Adam Johnson and back-from-injury Emanuele Giaccherini, won possession they attempted raking cross field balls that yielded nothing. Steven Fletcher and Fabio Borini fed off meagre scraps and Boaz Myhill was rarely tested.
Di Canio had handed Borini his first start for Sunderland while skipper John O'Shea returned from suspension. Midfielder Lee Cattermole was on the bench.
At half time, Charis Mavrias replaced Giaccherini while Jozy Altidore came on for Borini on the hour but neither switch made much of a difference as Steve Clarke's side ran the show.
Cattermole came on for the final 30 minutes but after such a lengthy lay-off it will take him a few more games before he gets back to match fitness. That can't come quickly enough for Di Canio who faces the challenge of Peterborough on Tuesday evening.
Sunderland's dismal afternoon was compounded when Fletcher tumbled in the box after blazing a shot over and walked off nursing what looked like a serious injury to his shoulder. It meant Sunderland finished the game with 10 men.
West Brom quickly took advantage as Liam Ridgewell crashed a volley past Westwood after the keeper had pushed Amalfitano's cross clear.
In added time man of the match Amalfitano fired inside Westwood's near post to seal a deserved victory.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION: Myhill;Jones,McAuley,Olsson (c),Ridgewell;Amalfitano,Mulumbu, Morrison;Sessegnon (Berahino 89);Sinclair (Yacob 69);Anelka (Anichebe 69).
SUNDERLAND: Westwood;Celustka,Diakite,O'Shea (c),Colback; Johnson,Ki,Gardner (Cattermole 69),Giaccherini (Mavrias 46);Fletcher;Borini (Altidore 59).
WBA subs (not used): Camp (gk),Popov,Rosenberg,Lugano.
Sunderland subs (not used): Mannone (gk),Ba,Cuellar,Ji.
Referee: Phil Dowd Bookings Colback 28, Ki 35 Attendance: 24,595
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