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22.01.2011 International

Blackpool 1 - 2 Sunderland

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Kieran Richardson's clinical first-half brace strengthened Sunderland's claim for a European place as they held off a Blackpool comeback at Bloomfield Road.

Richardson slotted the Black Cats ahead after a slick counter-attack and incisive pass from Asamoah Gyan.

And he doubled the lead and his tally for the season with a first-time strike after great work by Steed Malbranque.

Charlie Adam's late penalty made it 2-1 after Nedum Onuoha was harshly deemed to have felled David Vaughan.

The Seasiders skipper's coolly slotted spot-kick gave Blackpool great hope of salvaging a point from another pulsating tussle between the sides.

But unlike the previous meeting last month - which Sunderland somehow lost despite pummelling the Blackpool goal - neither team can lay claim to dominating this time around.

That is not to say the Black Cats were not good value for their win.

And they certainly showed no signs of a turbulent week which saw them sell top scorer Darren Bent to Aston Villa as they surged ahead within 15 minutes.

The goal was tough on Blackpool as they were down to ten men with Neal Eardley off the pitch with blood pouring from a head wound after getting a kick in the face from Richardson.

But the visitors showed no mercy as Gyan released Richardson with a delightful through-ball and the versatile former Manchester United man fired a measured shot across goal.

Sunderland then almost made it 2-0 when Jordan Henderson found Ahmed Elmohamady but the latter's right-wing cross just evaded Richardson.

The Seasiders responded and visiting keeper Craig Gordon was forced to make fine stops to deny both Luke Varney and the ever-inspirational and much-wanted Adam.

Varney should have scored after being sent through one-on-one by Adam and then Adam saw his 20-yard shot tipped over by the Scotland international keeper.

Sunderland added to their lead ten minutes before the break when Richardson raced forward, anticipated an inviting pass from Malbranque and fired a low shot past Richard Kingson at the near post.

Adam again went close with a long-range strike - this time a curling free kick that Gordon pushed away acrobatically.

Blackpool upped the tempo after the break and despite an injury to Kingson which forced boss Ian Holloway to bring on Paul Rachubka - they started to get on top.

Adam had yet another attempt saved by Gordon and substitute Marlon Harewood sent a low strike just wide.

Finally Adam did find the net from the spot after Vaughan's foul but despite six minutes of injury-time, Sunderland held firm.

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