Chris Maguire gave 10-man Sunderland a vital 1-0 lead in the League One Play-Off semi-final against Portsmouth with a stunning volley.
Adored by the fans at The Stadium of Light, Maguire had earend the nickname ‘The King in the North-East after his performances this season.
And he came up with the crowning glory for the Black Cats last night – only four minutes after coming on as sub.
Maguire’s stunning volley came in the 62nd minute – just moments before Alim Ozturk was harshly sent off for Sunderland.
But the ten-man hosts hung on to take a narrow advantage into Thursday’s semi-final second leg at Portsmouth.
This was the first time Sunderland have put one over Pompey in four attempts this term.
They were beaten at Fratton Park in December, lost March’s Checkatrade Trophy final against them on penalties and drew here two weeks ago.
So Sunderland boss Jack Ross will have been happy to finally register a victory – especially given his side’s end-of-season slump.
The Black Cats came FIFTH in League One after winning just one of their last seven games – the lowest league finish in the club’s history.
But they now appear to have arrested that slide – and just in the nick of time.
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Nervously watching on at the Stadium of Light last night was owner Stewart Donald, 24 hours after news broke he was in talks to sell his controlling stake of the club.
The insurance tycoon is chatting to a consortium bankrolled by Far East money and wants to do a deal after these play-offs.
But Donald, who only took over from Ellis Short last year, will be desperate for Sunderland to be in the Championship by then so he can cash-in for more money.