Everton 2 Sunderland 0

Sunderland's Titus Bramble wins the ball in the air ahead of Everton's Louis Saha during the Barclays Premier League match at Goodison Park.
Sunderland's Titus Bramble wins the ball in the air ahead of Everton's Louis Saha during the Barclays Premier League match at Goodison Park.
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SUNDERLAND fully deserved defeat today after one of their poorest performances of the season led to their fourth defeat in a row.

Once again poor defending undermined the Black Cats hopes of taking anything from a game.

But had the Wearsiders been able to make the most of two great first-half openings they might have had half a chance.

In just the seventh minute of the game, Asamoah Gyan played through Kieran Richardson into a one-on-one with Everton keeper Tim Howard but the Sunderland midfielder made a hash of his effort.

Everton capitalised on that a minute later when a poor defensive header from stand-in right-back Anton Ferdinand allowed striker Jermaine Beckford to fire a close range shot in off the knee of Titus Bramble.

Sunderland almost got back on level terms just before the half-hour when Gyan and Sulley Muntari set up Stephane Sessegnon and the African’s fierce shot was goal-bound until it was finger-tipped onto the crossbar by Tim Howard.

Once again, Everton made Sunderland pay. Ferdinand produced a poor defensive header again and this time it was Mikel Arteta who benefited, crossing from the left for Beckford to scuff home the 100th league goal of his career.

Everton were deserving of their 2-0 lead at the break but if Sunderland were disappointing in the first-half they were even worse in the second and barely featured as an attacking force.

The home team remained on top and could easily have added to their two goal advantage to inflict a worse result. It was hardly the way for Sunderland manager Steve Bruce to celebrate the signing of an extended contract. And it doesn’t look like getting better soon – a trip to the Emirates to take on Arsenal, the fixture awaiting them next week.

To read the rest of the match report, please see tonight’s Football Echo.