Van Aanholt strike enough to secure vital three points for Sunderland
A single goal from Patrick van Aanholt five minutes into the second-half helped Sunderland to an important win over Watford on Saturday.
The victory lifts the Black Cats to within a point of moving out of the relegation zone, ahead of a busy schedule of fixtures around Christmas and the New Year.
Sunderland have now won four of their last seven Premier League matches, after having previously been at risk of being cut adrift at the foot of the table.
David Moyes named Donald Love, Didier Ndong and Victor Anichebe in his starting 11, while Billy Jones and Jan Kirchhoff missed out through injury.
Watford played a significant role in a tight contest at the Stadium of Light and they brought yet another world class save out of Jordan Pickford in the first half, when Nordin Amrabat produced a stunning volleyed attempt from the edge of the box.
The hosts escaped and crafted out opportunities of their own, with Jason Denayer being afforded an early headed opportunity following a quickly taken corner kick.
Troy Deeney was a threat throughout for Watford and went close to unlocking the Sunderland defence on more than one occasion, while Victor Anichebe enjoyed the home side’s best chance of the half, but his attempt at goal was blocked.
The breakthrough eventually came on 49 minutes, when van Aanholt produced a smart finish under pressure in the penalty area, after collecting Jermain Defoe’s cross.
Watford searched for a response in the minutes that followed, but they were unable to create a clear cut opportunity, as the Sunderland defence rallied in protection of their slender but crucial advantage.
Papy Djilobodji and Donald Love were particularly impressive at the back for Sunderland, with Love undoubtedly relishing the visit to Old Trafford to take on old club Manchester United on Boxing Day.