The England defender powered home a 10th-minute header to give his side an early lead, but the visitors then wasted a series of opportunities to tie the game up as the Black Cats fought back.
Roy Keane´s men might have snatched a point as Carlo Cudicini had to be at his best to keep out Andy Reid´s first-half free-kick, and Kenwyne Jones headed straight at the Italian with 15 minutes remaining and went just over in the dying seconds.
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