Soccer-Crucial win for Sunderland over relegation rivals Cardiff


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April 27 (Reuters) - Sunderland's biggest win of the season gave them new hope of avoiding relegation when they beat fellow strugglers Cardiff City 4-0 in the Premier League on Sunday.

Cardiff, who had Spanish defender Juan Cala sent off just before half-time, replaced them in bottom position and with two games left are in serious danger of returning to the Championship (second tier) after one season in the top flight.

Their remaining matches are away to Newcastle on Saturday and at home to Chelsea the following weekend.

Cardiff have 30 points, one behind Fulham. Norwich City dropped into the bottom three on 32 points, the same as Sunderland but having played one game more.

Norwich, beaten 4-0 by Manchester United on Saturday for a fifth successive defeat, have two tough matches left, away to Chelsea and at home to Arsenal.

Sunderland have drawn with title contenders Manchester City and beaten Chelsea in recent weeks, and manager Gus Poyet said results had given his side belief they could avoid the drop.

"Confidence is so important. We've given ourselves the biggest opportunity we could dream about."

England under-21 international Connor Wickham scored twice for Sunderland, taking his tally to five goals in three games.

He opened the scoring from a corner on 26 minutes before Fabio Borini scored from a controversial penalty in added time at the end of the first half, after Cala was judged to have pulled Wickham's shirt.

Referee Phil Dowd allowed play to briefly continue before awarding Sunderland a spot kick and sending Cala off.

Italian Emanuele Giaccherini added a third with 14 minutes left before Wickham grabbed his second on 86 minutes.

"We've got determination and grit and that's why we're doing well lately," Wickham told Sky Sports. Hopefully, this will give us a boost. We're out of the relegation zone and we'll keep fighting to stay there."

Cardiff's manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he was disappointed at his team conceding goals from set pieces, adding: "We've taken a big blow but we've got two games and we've got to win them." (Writing by Steve Tongue, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Josh Reich)

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