Sunderland's win over Fulham could kick-start their season, says Kevin Phillips
Kevin Phillips hopes Sunderland's win at Fulham will inspire the Black Cats to go on a winning run.
Last Updated: 18/11/12 6:31pm
Martin O'Neill's men claimed only their second league win of the season thanks to second-half goals from Steven Fletcher, Carlos Cuellar and Stephane Sessegnon.
Fulham held parity at 1-1 when Mladen Petric scored after 62 minutes but the Londoners struggled after skipper Brede Hangeland was sent off before the break for a two-footed tackle on Lee Cattermole.
"With Fulham going a man down, this was a great opportunity for Sunderland to capitalise," reflected Blackpool striker Phillips, who scored 130 goals for the Black Cats before 1997 and 2003.
"At times you wouldn't have thought Fulham had had a man sent off but in the end the tempo in the second half needed to be upped and they certainly did that. They moved the ball quicker and they got the first goal at the right time.
"This win will hopefully be the springboard for the rest of the season. They've got two back-to-back home games now [against West Brom and QPR]. They'll go into next week's game full of confidence. Hopefully it will kick-start Sunderland's season."
Both teams struggled to gain the ascendancy in a first-half of few chances but the match tilted in Sunderland's favour with the dismissal of Hangeland around the half-hour mark.
Former Fulham midfielder John Collins told Sky Sports that referee Lee Probert had little option but to produce a red card, although he sympathised with Hangeland who was attempting to retrieve the ball after a poor Giorgos Karagounis pass.
"I thought it was a harsh decision by the referee," said Collins. "I think he got the ball but when you lift two feet off the ground more often than not the referee pulls out a red card.
"It comes from a slack pass and he's lunged at the ball. When you are a defender all your life your manager will ask you to tackle.
"He's got the ball but if you ask a referee then the letter of the law says that it's probably got to be a red card.
Phillips agreed, saying: "I think that's the key - it's the letter of the law. The [Emmanuel] Adebayor one [against Arsenal] yesterday was a blatant red. I thought this one was harsh but both feet have left the ground.
"I'm just wondering whether in the back of his mind he's thinking who the player is that he's coming up against; we all know what reputation Cattermole has got and he's probably thought 'I'm going to win that ball first'.
"Cattermole, surprisingly, didn't really challenge. Hangeland's left the floor and I think he's probably left the ref with no option but to send him off."
The pick of the goals was a spectacular 70th-minute strike by Sessegnon, which completed a pitch-length counter-attack - the ball swerving past Mark Schwarzer's outstretched arms and going in off the far post.
"Sessegnon won the ball on the edge of the box and he's got nothing else in his mind apart from a strike," said Phillips.
"You either see these go in or they go in Row Z; he hasn't scored in 20-odd games so you would have thought it would go in Row Z, but when that went in you knew it was going to be Sunderland's day.
"Today will have done him the world of good; it was a fantastic goal and let's hope he continues doing that for the rest of the season."