Sunderland's Dong-Won Ji holds his head in his hands. John Walton/EMPICS Sport

Premier League result: Blackburn 2-0 Sunderland

Martin O’Neill’s men produced a disappointing performance against the Premier League strugglers.

BLACKBURN ROVERS PULLED six points clear of the Premier League relegation zone after a 2-0 win over Sunderland tonight.

Second-half goals from Junior Hoilett and Yakubu handed Steve Kean’s side a valuable win at Ewood Park, moving them to 16th in the table with 28 points.

Rovers started brightly and nearly stole an early lead after some promising link-up play between Hoilett and Yakubu.

The 21-year-old won the ball in the middle before driving forward and sliding the Nigerian through in the box, but while the former Portsmouth man was able to squeeze his shot underneath goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, he missed the target.

The hosts continued to press, with Martin Olsson unable to get his shot on target after beating Phil Bardsley down the left flank, and Grant Hanley rising at the near post to meet a Morten Gamst Pedersen free-kick, but again, the Sunderland goalmouth was not threatened.

Pedersen nearly saw his corner sneak into the top corner but Sunderland captain Bardsley was on hand to prevent his side from conceding a fortuitous goal.

Sunderland’s best chance of the half fell to defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos just before the break after Campbell’s flick-on from the corner, but the Greek international failed to connect with the ball despite ample space in the box.

The second period began much in the same vein, with Mauro Formica flashing a half volley towards goal after Sunderland failed to clear Pedersen’s cross, while Dann found the back of the net from a corner just minutes later, only for the referee to have already awarded a foul against Hanley.

The hosts would not have to wait much longer to take a deserved lead however, as Hoilett bagged his third in two games to fire Rovers ahead.

Confusion between Kyrgiakos and Mignolet in the box following a long throw-in saw the ball fall straight to the Canadian on the penalty spot, and he duly fired home to hand the home side a one-goal advantage.

Ji Dong-Won, who replaced Campbell with 15 minutes remaining, was immediately presented with a golden chance to pull his side level.

Larsson’s cross found its way to McClean on the opposite flank, who cut the ball back across goal to the South Korean, yet the 20-year-old inexplicably hit the ball over the bar from four yards out when it would have been easier to score.

Sunderland were left to rue the miss just moments later, as Yakubu rose to double the home side’s lead with just five minutes remaining.

The impressive Steven N’Zonzi teed up right-back Bradley Orr to cross for the 29-year-old who headed home to ensure a vital victory for Kean in the battle for Premier League survival.

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