Sunderland 1-0 Fulham: Maja magic earns Sunderland long-awaited home victory as Coleman conquers old side

Sunderland ended their nearly 21-game wait for a home victory as Josh Maja's effort edged Fulham.

Sunderland 1-0 Fulham: Maja magic earns Sunderland long-awaited home victory as Coleman conquers old side
Above: Sunderland AFC celebrating Josh Maja's goal in the 1-0 win over Fuham | Photo: Getty Images/Ian Horrocks - Sunderland AFC
SUNDERLAND AFC
1 0
FULHAM
SUNDERLAND AFC: RUITER,BROWNING, O'SHEA, WILSON, MATTHEWS, LOVE, GIBSON, GOOCH (NDONG, MIN. 67), HONEYMAN, GRABBAN (ASORO, MIN. 73), VAUGHAN (MAJA, MIN. 72)
FULHAM: BETTINELLI, FREDERICKS, SESSEGNON, MCDONALD, JOHANSEN, FONTE (KAMARA, MIN. 78), CAIRNEY, REAM, NORWOOD (GRAHAM, MIN. 72), OJO, KALAS (DE LA TORRE, MIN. 89)
SCORE: 1-0, MIN. 77, MAJA
REFEREE: STEPHEN MARTIN BOOKED OJO (MIN. 60) GOOCH (MIN. 62) FREDERICKS (MIN. 90)

Sunderland's horror run of form at The Stadium of Light was finally brought to an end, as a second-half effort from subsitute Josh Maja secured a narrow but deserved 1-0 win over his old side Fulham. 

It was decent opening 45 minutes on a ground that has seen so much disappointment in the recent weeks and months, with both sides producing decent opportunities.

The best chance of the game came minutes after the restart as Vaughan's header was pushed onto the crossbar, it was looking like luck wasn't going to be on the side of The Black Cats as they pushed and pushed but Maja's effort in the 77th minute ended their 21-game wait for three points on Wearside. 

 

Beginning to get into gear 

Overall it is fair to say it has been a good start to the Coleman revolution on Wearside especially going into this clash off the back of last week's 0-0 draw with Championship leaders Wolves, one thing that still evaded them was that long-awaited home victory and they looked to recitfy that with a positive start against Slaviša Jokanović's men. 

Grabban came close in the opening seconds but it was the visitors that came closest in the opening moments of the clash, Ryan Sessegnon did well to place a ball right across the face of Robin Ruiter's goalmouth with Johansen running in but was inches short of turning home the opener. 

Gibson did well in the ninth minute as he did well quickly nip onto a weak pass and hit a decent effort from outside the area, the low shot looked dangerous but Marcus Bettinelli did well with the bounce in front of him to push it away from danger. 

 

End-to-end stuff 

On paper it looked to be an entertaining clash at The Stadium of Light with Fulham looking to live up to the potential that saw them billed as title favourites pre-season and Sunderland a point away from coming out of the relegation zone, and the fans  were the beneficiaries as they played some great end-to-end stuff around the half-hour mark. 

Gibson's poor free-kick in the 26th minute led to an opportunity as a floated ball into the box reignited the danger as it looked for the head of Vaughan, the striker looked to impress on his return to the side in place of the suspended Lee Cattermole but Bettenelli was quick off his line to punch away. 

Honeyman struck up another chance almost instantaneously as he cut in on his right and leathered it from some distance, it was clear that Bettenelli didn't like the swerve on the effort as he could only punch it into the turf. 

Following that Fulham looked to punish The Black Cats on the break as Norwood did well to rise above Donald Love at the far post, but despite getting a decent connection with his head it was just past Ruiter's post. 

 

Looking to make a late impact 

There was no doubt that Fulham had a lot of talent in their side but so far have yet to meet many people's expectations residing down in 12th. They showed flashes of just what they can do towards the end of the half. 

That wasn't before Sunderland had another decent chance as Adam Matthews' ball into the area was excellent for Vaughan to get his head onto, the goal was gaping as Bettenelli came flying off his line but Sunderland fans were punished for their premature celebrations as the effort went wide of the far post. 

Fulham had been boosted by the return to fitness of their skipper Cairney in recent weeks, he was played through in the 39th minute by Sheyi Ojo's defence-splitting ball as he made the run to the far post but Tyias Browning was across to block as he just pulled the trigger. 

​They tested Ruiter again moments later as Johansen did well to cut in onto his left foot and shoot, Ruiter was down but able to parry it into a danger position before being cleared by the Black Cat defender. 

 

A lick of paint away from the lead 

​Coleman's side looked just as up for it for the second period as they had been in the opening minutes of the first, and came within inches of taking the lead only being denied by a excellent piece of goalkeeping. 

Grabban kept the move alive as he laid it off to Love whose floated ball found the head of Vaughan who got plenty of power behind it, but Bettinelli went one better as his excellent reaction save tipped it onto the crossbar. 

They had another chance moments as Honeyman leathered a good effort from the edge which forced Bettinelli to punch the effort back into the goalmouth, Fulham should have been punished for failing to clear their lines as Grabban gained possession but he shanked it wide of the mark. 

​The loanee AFC Bournemouth striker had the ball in the net after the hour mark as he curled a good effort into the far corner on the tight angle, but once again celebrations were premature as the flag was raised on the far side. 

 

Bringing that horror run to an end 

As the seconds and minutes began to go by it was clear that Coleman needed to change something if his side were going to take a deserved breakthrough, he went for broke as he introduced both Maja and Joel Asoro and it more than paid off for the Welshman. 

It was excellent from the young striker as he only needed the one touch to take in Matthews' pass and turn the defender, Maja was slipping but still did enough to get the shot away and roll into the far corner much to the relief of the home supporters.