Former Nigeria international Victor Anichebe was a one-man riot squad as he led Sunderland to a 2-1 away win against Bournemouth.
It was the burly Nigerian’s first start for the northeast England club he joined in the summer. The Premier League’s bottom team went behind after 11 minutes when Dan Gosling converted a cross off his chest.
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Anichebe bagged the equaliser in the 33rd minute, holding off a defender with his back to goal, turning and rifling a left shot into the net.
The game turned into an uphill struggle for the away team after South African midfielder Stephen Pienaar was sent off on the hour for a second yellow card. But the “Black Cats” battled on, with Anichebe even putting in a shift in defensive duties, while being frequently available for the counterattack.
He drove into the box only to be brought down with less than 20 minutes left. The ref did not hesitate to point to the spot and Jermain Defoe converted the penalty for a precious two points for Sunderland, who have had the joint worst start in Premier League history with this first win after 11 games.
Anichebe, who cracked a rib during the game and still soldiered on, said afterwards: “We had no luck in the last few weeks. I cracked my ribs and couldn’t move. But we pulled together for the manager. We did it for the manager and for the fans.”
Manager David Moyes, who has been under incredible pressure due to Sunderland’s poor form, must be allowed a smile of satisfaction because his gamble to start Anichebe upfront alongside Defoe paid off, and Anichebe justified the faith the manager had in him.