Two Connor Wickham goals helped Sunderland escape the relegation zone, but plunged Cardiff into deep trouble
That's that then. Well played Sunderland, who have finally got themselves out of the bottom four. Meanwhile, it's not looking good for Cardiff. I'm off, but head on over to Liverpool v Chelsea here.
Peep Peep: Just time for a last corner for Cardiff. Bellamty stands over it, clips it in and Wes Brown clears. With that, the final whistle goes.
90 min +3: In terms of morale, you'd have to think the advantage in the relegation fight is with Sunderland now. Cardiff must feel desperate, Norwich appear to have little direction while Fulham must be utterly demoralise after letting a two-goal lead slip yesterday.
90 min +2: Zaha ambles into the Sunderland box, but five defenders descend on him and clear. Giaccherini decides to go on a run up the left and, when nobody challenges him, decides he may as well shoot. Marshall saves, while Wickham was unmarked in the area and hoping for a chance at his hat-trick.
90 min: There will be four more minutes of torture for Cardiff's fans. "Is it too late for a 'Get Wickham on the plane' bandwagon?" bandwagons Matt Dony.
88 min: Bellamy, to much booing, crosses from the left wing and finds Jones in the area. Wes Brown is in close attendance and Jones nods the ball over the bar, rather than get his consolation.
86 min: Giaccherini pinged over an excellent cross, which found Wickham almost unmarked in the box. The on-fire striker didn't even have to jump as he nodded the ball home.
Cardiff can barely get a touch of the ball. And given they are a man down and are playing just two defenders, things don't look good for them. They concede another corner .. and it goes in! Wickham again!
83 min: Johnson again torments the Cardiff defence, diddling around with the ball in dangerous areas up the right wing. The home side are simply passing the ball about between themselves, still - to their credit - looking for another goal. Poyet decides to waste some time and shore up the midfield at the same time: Colback comes off for Bridcutt and Gardner comes on for Johnson.
"Is Mr Haywood aware of this piece of genius from the late lamented Observer Sports Monthly?" asks Gary Naylor. "Yes - Mumsnet on an MBM!"
80 min: Ah, he's not too bad after all. He's on his feet to watch Johsnson run into the Cardiff box, lose the ball to Giaccherini, who hammers a shot in and wins a corner. From it Collback eventually gets the ball, and whizzes a swerving shot just over the bar.
79 min: Borini and Theophile have both gone down in a heap after a hearty clash. Borini gets up again, but Theophile looks worse off.
77 min: Giaccherini gets a yellow for taking off his shirt and celebrating, because no-one wants to see that sort of passion in a relegation fight. A relegation fight that is not looking good for Cardiff right now. Somewhere Malky Mackaye is grinning.
Sunderland carve Cardiff open with ease. Borini passes the ball into the left channel and Giaccherini runs in behind Medel unspotted and slots a lovely finish home.
75 min: Wickham ignores Johnson, who is screaming for the ball, and lashes a shot well wide of Marshall's left hand post.
Mac Millings calls to check in on the other MBM regulars: "Is there a full moon, or an ill-omened comet lighting up the sky? The world is upside-down. Naylor is usually the guru's guru, yet here he is today, the footballing equivalent of a man who, failing to get a bonfire burning with a sopping wet towel, thinks throwing another four on will do the job, because - who knows? - maybe one of them is made of firelighters. Also, could someone go round and check on Babbling Incoherently's Ian Copestake?"
74 min: To much booing, Craig Bellamy is brought on to replace Fraizer Campbell. Bellamy, as you would expect, revels in the role of panto villain. Or is it panto dame?
72 min: Larsson hammers a shot at goal. It's deflected but Sunderland stay on the attack. Colback crosses to Borini from the by line and the forward sticks out a foot, directing the ball at goal. Marshall knew nothing about the save. Larsson goes off, and is replaced Giaccherini.
70 min: It's beginning to get a bit tastier on the pitch, Zaha shoves Alonso who plays the innocent card despite having clearly prevented the Cardiff man from taking a quick free kick.
69 min: Johnson crosses to Wickham in the box, whose control is immaculate as he brings the ball down instantly with his left foot. He is tackled and the ball breaks to Borini, whose shot is deflected over for another corner. Marshall just about gets the ball away.
"Listen to that Gary Naylor, advocating 5 (five!) strikers in your late-season lineup," emails Justin Kavanagh. "This is what happens when you get a liberating blast of Roberto Martinez at your club after years of David Moyes."
67 min: The second corner is also good, but Wes Brown can't get his head over the ball to get it on target.
67 min: Sunderland break, but a little half-heartedly. Still Johnson can dribble at pace into the box and Whittingham (who is now playing in defence) is forced to bully him out for a corner. Jones heads the corner behind as the ball arced towards the near post.
A missive from John Cole, in reply to Tony Coward at 1pm. "I may be wrong and a bit pedantic but as an Ipswich supporter I remember Roy Keane letting Jordon Rhodes go not because Wickham was so good - Roy Keane hardly gave Wickham a game- bit because he didn't recognise that Rhodes was so good and had spent 1.7 million on Tamas Priskin. Yes that Tamas Priskin."
64 min: Whittingham strikes an extremely good free kick, which deflects off the wall and nearly sneaks in under Mannone's hand. Meanwhile Kenwyne Jones replaces temper's Fabio. That leaves Cardiff with two natural defenders on the pitch. "When I read Mutch Iwant to add 'The miller's son'. Are there any other players who belong in folk tales?" asks Richard Haywood. There are probably one or two who fit this description.
61 min: Johnson is clear up the left wing. He races forwards and, with Wickham and Borini tearing up the middle, he fails to find the ball to put them in on goal. A good Sunderland break there, and a goal would certainly have killed this game. Poor from Johnson. But a moment later, Collback slips the ball to Borini outside the box and, rather than find Wickham alone in the box, he shoots wide. Poyet goes bananas on the touchline.
59 min: Zaha tricks and twists his way about the pitch, but drops in one too many skillz and Sunderland clear. Theophile crosses a moment later, however, as Cardiff are just beginning to get into this game. Sunderland are perhaps getting a touch careless, maybe thinking the game is already won.
Here's Gary Naylor again: "Re. Mr Hardy's point, there's definitely a bit of 'Arry in twisting rather than sticking with strikers, but I'm only advocating it for relegation battles. With three subs possible, potentially five strikers can have a go in a match - and once one gets on a streak (and streaks do come when caution must be thrown to the wind in a dogfight), pick him and then rotate the rest. There's an art to squeezing 15 points between March and May - something that Paul Lambert appears to demonstrating in reverse."
57 min: Zaha goes on the sort of powerful run up the left wing that Cardiff could have done with more of in the first half. He wins a corner. The delivery is terrific and Mutch gets up to head the ball about 10 yards wide and too high.
Ian Copestake, ladies and gentleman, in the process of losing the run of himself: "As Rasmus Löb probably knows the FA rules go on to state that "... a penalty shall be awarded, and the Lord, he it is that doth goe before thee, he will be with thee, hee will not faile thee, neither forsake thee: feare not, neither be dismayed."
55 min: Mutch whips a low cross right across the Sunderland area. A good attacking ball let down by just one thing: no Cardiff players are near it. A moment later, Mannone nearly slides right out of the area holding the ball but gets away with it. Sunderland's attention is more immediately focused on John O'Shea, who has gone down in the box clutching parts of himself.
54 min: Larsson has just been given a yellow too. No idea why. That's the level we're operating at here. Good old Guardian.
53 min: What has Fabio done here? With his side already a man down, the former Manchester United man loses every inch of his rag and simply runs into the back of Wickham and pushes him to the ground. He gets a yellow and is lucky that his captain Caulker cooled him down enough to stop him from shouting at the referee about it.
51 min: Johnson drives into the box and enjoys a one-on-one tussle with Theophile. The defender leans into him, allowing Johnson to throw himself to the floor. This time Dowd says no penalty.
50 min: Borini twists, turns and finds an inch or two of room in the box. He attempts to wrap his foot around the ball and curl it inside the far post from the edge of the area. He can't get enough bend on it though. Here's Rasmus Löb on the red card row: "For some odd reason a lot of people don't seem aware of this, but the FIFA rules clearly state that if a tug starts outside of the box but continues into it, a penalty shall be awarded."
48 min: Or not re. Medel's abilities as Theophile heads clear to Campbell, who finds Daehli who is then on the receiving end of a Colback hammer tackle. This, incidentally, is the bottom of the league as it stands.
47 min: Sunderland win a corner as Theophile heads the ball behind. This will be a test of Medel's centre-back abilities. "Rather than Moneyball, as Ian Copestake (h/t) suggests, what Gary Naylor (32 mins) is endorsing sounds like the "Harry Redknapp approach" - buy everyone you can and hope something works," emails Ben Hardy of an approach that, no matter what, is at least a lot of fun.
Peep, peep: We're off. Medel has dropped into the back four to play centre back. Uh oh.
The teams are back out. Zaha has replaced Cowie for 10-man Cardiff City.
Red card row: "You say the red card was a good decision," hollers Donald Smith. "Perhaps I'm missing something here but surely if Wickham continued on and got a shot away, Cala didn't prevent a goal-scoring opportunity and, hence, shouldn't have been sent off." It's certainly an arguable point, and one a certain Norwegian manager might argue. But on the other hand, he clearly fouled Wickham in the box.
Here's Tony Cowards: "It's no surprise to Ipswich Town fans that Connor is coming good in the Premier League, as a 16/17 year old he was an absolute beast of a player, knocking Championship defenders nearly twice his age all over the place and scoring brilliant goals.
"He was so good that when Ipswich had to sell one of our promising youngsters to make ends meet we were happy to let Jordan Rhodes go and keep Connor."
That card was only ever going to be Juan Cala
Looking at that penalty again, it really was good refereeing by Dowd. Had Wickham gone down in a heap, it would have seemed an obvious penalty. The fact that he didn't is probably the only thing that has made it look questionable. Therefore, it should have been given. Cala did start tugging Wickham back outside the box, but he was still doing it inside - so perhaps that muddies the waters too. But still, I think, Dowd got that right.
Here's a half time slap down from Ian Copestake, directed at Mr Gary Naylor. "What Gary Naylor is suggesting (32 mins) sounds like a British version of the moneyball premise: find players undervalued by the market but leave out the rigorous statistical analysis."
HALF TIME! That was really very good refereeing from Phil Dowd, but Connor Wickham deserves credit for not going down in a heap and rolling about on the floor. Possibly a questionable decision - it wasn't that much of a tug from Cala, but the process was well observed. And that's half time.
For the second week in a row, Borini slots the ball home from the spot. A cool penalty down to Marshall's left (who could have done better)
What on earth was going on there! Cala tugs back Wickham as he charges into the box. The referee doesn't blow up, but plays advantage. Wickham continues to run into the box, draws Marshall out, but can't shoot. Eventually Cardiff get the ball back and Dowd blows his whistle, points to the spot and sends off Cala.
43 min: "Connor Wickham!" splutter John Peters. "All he did at leeds on loan was a long throw assist for a Matt Smith header. Suddenly he's Alan Shearer! Annoying."
42 min: Fabio delivers a whistling cross into the Sunderland area, and with an element of panic the ball is cleared. Cardiff briefly go on the attack, lurking menacingly up the left wing. Eventually Whittingham clobbers a deep cross the back post and Sunderland can clear. A good period of possession for Cardiff, though.
40 min: Larsson and Johnson stand over the ball, then Johnson chips a delicate ball in to nobody and Cardiff can clear. The ball ends up being played back to Mannone. A waste.
39 min: Cowie attempts to cross down the right wing, but Johnson is back in the left back slot and he hammers the ball clear to Wickham. His control is exceptional and he finds Colback, who races forwards ... only to be fouled by Medel, who gets a yellow for his troubles, while Sunderland have a free kick 30 yards out.
37 min: Mutch jumps into Wes Brown, who is sent sprawling to the ground. He's lucky that Dowd lets it go. He's treading an excitingly fine line at the moment.
37 min: Instead, Vergini does Cattermole's work for him and scythes Mutch down to earn himself a yellow. This could get quite lively.
36 min: Mutch earns himself a yellow card two seconds later after jumping up (reasonably innocuously, I thought) with Cattermole. Your move Lee.
35 min: Colback finds the ball at his feet 20 yards out and he swishes the ball just wide of Marshall's left hand post. Meanwhile, off the ball, Mutch and Cattermole are continuing to enjoy a lively debate about each other's merits. Keep an eye on this one ...
34 min: Borini takes a ball down on his chest in the D, and Cala ought to be reasonably ashamed that he did so with such ease. He passes to Wickham who is in a good position, but can't shoot powerfully and is under close scrutiny from the defence. A good chance goes begging.
32 min: Here's Gary Naylor with a good point: "Is Connor Wickham doing a 'Kevin Campbell'? Back in 1999, Super Kev scored nine goals in eight games to save Everton from becoming Sheffield Wednesday. Surely sides in the bottom eight or so should buy / loan half a dozen strikers (of even dubious quality) in the hope that one will come off in the helter-skelter run-in. If one does, what a difference it makes."
31 min: On the Sunderland bench, Gus Poyet is grinning away. His assistant manager Mauricio Taricco has a look on his face familiar to all fans of teams in a desperate relegation battle: it says simply "Too soon."
29 min: Sunderland set up shop just outside the Cardiff box but the move breaks down when Vergini crosses into the box and no Sunderland player gambles ... if running into the penalty area when your right back has the ball in a crossing position can really be considered a gamble.
27 min: It's as if the prospect of playing in the Championship again has somehow woken Connor Wickham up, isn't it? He arrived at the far post to head Larrson's corner back across goal and just inside the opposite post.
4 - Connor Wickham has now scored four goals in his last three Premier League appearances after netting just one in his first 37. Saviour.
Johnson screams up the left wing this time and his cross pings out for a corner off Cowie's foot. Here comes Larrson's delivery ... and goal! Wickham nods it home
24 min: Larsson crosses to nobody in the Cardiff box but as the Cardiff defence hope the ball will go out of play, Alonso pops up to cause some trouble. Cardiff eventually clear in the somewhat desperate style of a man bailing out a dinghy with five holes in it.
23 min: Wickham is shown into the corner by Fabio and another Cardiff defender yet, despite being outnumbered, manages to dribble his way back out again. He doesn't do much with it, but still that was great. A minute later, Cattermole Cattermoles Mutch in the middle of the pitch, then shouts at referee Phil Dowd as if he hadn't just amputated the Cardiff man. No yellow, amazingly.
20 min: A period of Sunderland pressure and possession comes to an end when Johnson is mugged. It means the impressive Daehli can break and put the Sunderland back four under pressure. There is much messing around, before Theophile crosses to Campbell, who goes down under a clumsy Wes Brown challenge. He doesn't appeal for a penalty, and nor does he get one as the contact seemed accidental. Still, odd for a striker not to wave his hands about like a demented air traffic controller after going down in the box.
16 min: Corner to Cardiff: Don Cowie blasts over. Here's an email: "Despite their nutzoid owner I'd prefer Cardiff to stay up, nevertheless assuming both these teams go down, which players are likely to get transfers to which teams in the Premier League?" asks Mike MacKenzie. "Marshall would be in very high demand of course but who else? I know Borini is a Liverpool loanee." Medel might get a move, while Larsson's dead ball expertise might get him a transfer too. If Cardiff go down, then Fabio, the Jonah, will have been relegated two seasons in a row after going down with QPR last year.
14 min: Larsson picks out Johnson on the right wing with a free kick, rather than whistle the ball into the box where his entire side were waiting. The surprise tactic doesn't pay off as Johnson is closed down quickly.
12 min: Corner to Cardiff City, and Peter Whittingham stands over the ball with his sights set on Caulker. It's a tricky delivery to the back post but there was some argy bargy in the box and, when Mannone hits the deck, he is relieved that Phil Dowd blows up for a foul.
11 min: John O'Shea attempts the lesser-spotted forward back-pass, lurching onto a long ball and nodding it forwards inside his boxfor his keeper to claim while Frazier Cambell lurked.
10 min: Vergini, I think, spots Borini drifting in from the left wing and through the middle. He pings a good long ball over the top, and it evades Borini's boot by inches. Good chance.
9 min: A mistake from Cala gives Medel too much to do and Sunderland work a chance: Wickham passes to Larsson inside the box, but his delivery is tricky to control and Larsson can't get as good a shot on target as he would have liked. Marshall saves.
7 min: Here come Cardiff at last. They drive forward and Daehli gets on the ball, taking one pot shot, then picking up the ball again and trying to set something up on the edge of the area. He drifts from left to write before finding Theophile. He crosses but Sunderland regain control and clear.
6 min: Johnson has a mazy dribble across the pitch, then chips a cross into the box. Don Cowie hammers the ball out for another corner. Cardiff are all over the place at the moment and look terribly nervous. Marshall gets a good hand to the corner and Cardiff scramble the ball out.
4 min: Marshall is forced into a couple of saves. Larsson first delivers a deep cross and the Cardiff keeper has to scramble to stop it dipping under the crossbar. Next, Wickham lashes a shot at the near post and Marshall taps it behind for a corner. Sunderland have two goes at the corner, but get nothing from either.
3 min: Fabio concedes a silly foul after getting his foot up too high. Johnson hoists a booming free-kick into the box and, like a schoolboy game, everyone centres on the ball and attempts to hoof it goalwards. There's a shout for handball, which isn't given, and the ball goes out for a corner. The ball in is good, but is cleared.
2 min: Johnson beats one man as he skedaddles up the right wing and earns a massive WHOOAAAR! from the crowd. He loses the ball a second later. So far, it's reasonably nervy stuff.
We're off: Cardiff City are back in blue, the fans no doubt delighted but Vincent Tan possibly puce. Sunderland are in the red and white stripes that they should be.
Lizz Poulter is the first top spot it: "I might be being stupid, bit how can a draw ever help with goal difference? If you score 10 and concede the same number, you have a superior number of goals scored, but not goal difference. Surely ..? Anyway I'm hoping for a Cardiff win - it's Man Utd legends weekend."
The teams are trotting down the tunnel and out onto the pitch, hearts in mouths, blood pumping, all nervily edging from what we are contractually obliged to call the relegation trap door.
A brief look at these two clubs' run-ins: Sunderland, with a game in hand, have Manchester United away, then West Brom and Swansea at home.
Cardiff are away at Newcastle next and at home to Chelsea, against who they will be hoping to follow Sunderland's example. It's hard to know who has got it tougher. On their day, you'd think Sunderland could beat West Brom and Swansea. Meanwhile, it's anyone's guess as to whether Newcastle will turn up against Cardiff. Interesting times ...
Here's optimistic Tony, Fulham's one-man Louisiana-based fan club: "As a Fulham supporter, I'm hoping for a draw. 10-10 sounds about right. That will help with the goal difference."
So Sunderland stick with the team who beat Chelsea last week, and why wouldn't they? However Phil Bardsley is back on the bench as is Liam Bridcutt. For Cardiff City, Craig Bellamy returns to the bench and Don Cowie plays over Kim Bo-kyung.
Sunderland: Mannone, Vergini, O'Shea, Brown, Alonso, Larsson, Cattermole, Colback, Johnson, Wickham, Borini.
Subs: Bardsley, Gardner, Altidore, Giaccherini, Bridcutt, Scocco, Ustari.
It's a relegation six pointer. Miracle worker Gus Poyet faces in-need-of-a-miracle Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Can Sunderland's run continue after the victory over Chelsea and the draw against Manchester City? Or will they fall prey to their more usual habit of losing against the lesser teams and beating the bigger ones? We'll find out in half an hour...