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Relegation fears intensify as ten-man Sunderland crash to defeat
Full-time: Sunderland 0 Hull City 2
SUNDERLAND crashed back towards the relegation zone as Wes Brown's third-minute dismissal proved the major factor in a 2-0 home defeat to Hull City.
But it was Brown's early red card for a professional foul on Long that ultimately condemned Sunderland to their eighth home defeat of the campaign.
With West Ham and Crystal Palace both winning, the defeat leaves Sunderland just one place and one point above the relegation zone ahead of a run of three successive away games that takes them to Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool.
Gustavo Poyet named an unchanged line-up from last weekend's Tyne-Wear derby win over Newcastle, but any hopes of a similarly simple afternoon disappeared in the third minute as Brown picked up his third red card of the season.
Phil Bardsley's horrific back-pass afforded Long a clear run on goal, and Brown clattered into the Hull striker on the edge of the area in an attempt to halt his progress.
The foul occurred just outside the 18-yard box, so at least Sunderland did not concede a penalty, but referee Mike Jones had no hesitation in showing Brown a straight red card.
The dismissal was the Black Cats' sixth of the season, one of which was rescinded, and remarkably marked the third red card the club have picked up in their two matches against Hull.
Santiago Vergini came off the bench in an attempt to bolster the back four – Fabio Borini was the unfortunate player to make way – but Sunderland's resistance would have been breached in the 16th minute had Vito Mannone not made a magnificent diving save to keep out Jake Livermore's side-footed shot.
From the resultant corner, however, Hull made the breakthrough. Jozy Altidore headed clear, but after Livermore drilled the ball back towards goal, Long beat Mannone with a deft glanced header.
Sunderland's first effort on goal came when Marcos Alonso drilled a harmless effort straight at Steve Harper, but the Black Cats were over-run for large periods of the first half.
They were always going to struggle with just ten men, but Altidore's failure to hold the ball up hampered them further and the hosts often found themselves with nine players camped on the edge of their own penalty area.
Mannone prevented things getting worse when he clawed away Jelavic's header from a Liam Rosenior cross, and the woodwork came to Sunderland's rescue shortly after the half-hour mark when Long danced around two defenders before curling a 20-yard strike against the left-hand upright.
Adam Johnson had little chance to impress England boss Roy Hodgson as he was forced to concentrate on defensive duties, but the in-form winger did at least have his side's best effort of the first half.
Bardsley chipped the ball into the area, and while Maynor Figueroa headed clear, Johnson drilled in a first-time volley that Harper clasped to his chest.
Bruce replaced Liam Rosenior with Robert Koren at half-time in order to give his Hull side a more attacking outlook, but Sunderland started the second half reasonably brightly and might well have levelled had it not been for the reflexes of former Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper.
Ki Sung-Yueng's shot took a deflection off Figueroa, but Harper flung himself to the ground to claw the ball around the post.
It was a crucial save, as seven minutes later, and Hull effectively killed off the game by scoring their second.
Figueroa's speculative shot looped into the air via a deflection off Vergini, and Jelavic claimed his first goal since joining Hull from Everton in January as he powerfully headed home.
The Croatia international almost added a third late on, but he slid the ball marginally past the post after meeting Ahmed Elmohamady's cross.
Sunderland (4-1-4-1): Mannone; Bardsley, O'Shea, Brown, Alonso; Bridcutt (Wickham 75); Johnson, Colback, Ki (Gardner 70), Borini (Vergini 11); Altidore.
Subs (not used): Ustari (gk), Cattermole, Larsson, Giaccherini.
Hull (3-5-2): Harper; Rosenior (Koren 46), Davies, McShane; Elmohamady, Meyler, Huddlestone, Livermore, Figueroa; Jelavic (Aluko 78), Long (Brady 89).
Subs (not used): Jakupovic (gk), Bruce, Boyd, Sagbo.