Sulley Muntari’s goal in the dying minutes claimed all three points for Sunderland in their 2-1 Premier League victory over Bolton.Steve Bruce’s men seemed to be heading for a draw when Ivan Klasnic headed home on an equaliser on 87 minutes, but Muntari’s strike in the 93rd minute means Sunderland are on 44 points and surely safe from the threat of relegation.
Sunderland went into the match looking for the win that would virtually guarantee their survival for another season.
But Bruce’s men arrived at the Reebok having won just once in 14 matches and they almost went behind on 10 minutes when Matt Taylor’s low drive seemed destined to open the scoring but Simon Mignolet saved with his legs.
Sunderland, decimated by injury, finally carved out a chance of their own on the half hour but Phil Bardsley headed off target from close range when he really should have done better.
But the visitors were celebrating a little while later when Boudewijn Zenden nipped in to slot the ball past Jussi Jaaskelainen for Sunderland’s first away goal since February 5.
Sunderland shipped 28 goals in 11 games prior to this match, but their defence stood up to the task admirably as Bolton fought in vain to get back into the game.
Having flirted with the idea of Europe, the emphasis now has turned to avoiding relegation and Bruce’s men looked nervy as the match drew to its conclusion.
But just as Bruce thought he was celebrating a crucial victory, substitute Klasnic struck to put Bolton back on level terms.
Klasnic, on for Taylor, rose highest to meet Rodrigo Moreno’s cross three minutes from time to seemingly claim a draw.
However, battling Sunderland struck back and Muntari smashed the ball home to seal the win and surely seal survival.