Blackburn Rovers look like they've finally shaken off the relegation blues.
Steve Kean's men hauled themselves clear of the drop zone with a 2-0 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers 10 days ago, but there was still some doubt as to whether or not they'd stay up. Entertaining Martin O'Neill and a resurgent Sunderland would be a much sterner test, and Rovers passed with flying colors at Ewood Park.
The hosts more or less neutralized the threat posed by Sunderland, restricting the Black Cats to just three shots on the night, but it didn't look as though they'd pose a major problem to Simon Mignolet's goal until early in the second half. Indeed, the match looked destined for 0-0 until Junior Hoilett broke the deadlock 51 minutes in after a neat volley following a half-cleared chance.
The three points were wrapped up four minutes from time when a free header was presented to Yakubu Aiyegbeni, and the Blackburn striker made no mistake from six yards. Sunderland had wasted chances for Nicklas Bendtner and Ji-Dong Wang in the interim.
It's the first time that Blackburn have won two straight matches this season, and it couldn't have come at a better time. Rovers remain in 15th place, but they're now six points clear of Queens Park Rangers in 18th, and they look like locks to avoid the drop. That's quite the turnaround since the start of the season.