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Match Report: Sunderland 3-2 FC Groningen - Noble's Wonderstrike Snatches Victory

The Peace Cup has come to an end, and Sunderland have stolen third place with two late goals against FC Groningen.
The Peace Cup has come to an end, and Sunderland have stolen third place with two late goals against FC Groningen.

The Peace Cup has come to a close, and in a thoroughly entertaining game at the Suwon Wold Cup Stadium this morning, Sunderland snatch victory from the jaws of defeat to seal third place in the tournament.

It was a good work out in slightly less humid conditions to Thursday's game with Seongnam, and it was another good workout for a changed side as Martin O'Neill made use of his travelling squad.

Plenty of goals, action and more worryingly than anything injuries to some key players. Let's hope they're not too bad, but for now we'll take you though all the action from Korea...

Martin O'Neill made some changes to the starting lineup with Simon Mignolet rested after a minor knock in training, leaving Ben Wilson to start the game between the sticks. In front of him a defence of Craig Gardner, Carlos Cuellar, Wes Brown and Kieran Richardson. the midfield three-come-five was David Meyler, Lee Cattermole and Jack Colback, with Craig Lynch and Fraizer Campbell moving wide and also supporting Connor Wickham in attack.

Related: Quick Kicks: Seongnam I Follow Roker Report On Twitter

It was Groningen who fired the first strike towards goal after just two minutes when Virgil Van Dijk intercepted a loose pass from Brown, but the defender's strike was high, wide and handsome with Wilson untroubled in the Sunderland goal.

Sunderland immediately responded when Wickham played a lovely ball to put Fraizer Campbell clear of the Groningen backline, but his shot from an acute angle was equally wide, with the former Manchester United man knowing he should have at least hit the target.

Wickham had the next opportunity, but was equally profligate in choosing to shoot when Kieran Richardson was perhaps better placed for an effort on goal.

The first injury worry came after just 13 minutes when Carlos Cuellar was replaced by Titus Bramble. The Spaniard didn't appear to be too injured as he jogged off the pitch, so hopefully this was merely a precaution rather than anything serious. The new signing had done quite well up until that point too.

As the game slowed down slightly after a good opening, Campbell found himself dispossessed with ease, allowing Leandro Bacuna to get a strike in on goal, but Ben Wilson - enjoying a comfortable half to this point - was on hand to thwart the Dutch winger's shot.

On 19 minutes we had our first goal through Connor Wickham. Craig Gardner sent in a wonderful cross from deep, with Titus Bramble getting on the end of it to stab at goal. His strike was saved by Luciano Da Silva in the Groningen goal, but the Brazilian keepers parry fell straight to Wickham to tap into an open net from all of four yards.

Sunderland looked comfortable after the goal. Craig Lynch impressing down the left, and Wes Brown looking good to hold off the equally impressive Bacuna as he broke towards goal.

Ben Wilson was called into action to stop a tremendous strike from Maikel Kieftenbeld, but from then on the rest of the half was a disaster from a Sunderland perspective.

First Wes Brown limped out of the game, replaced by John Egan, and it was a baptism of fire for the young Irishman as Groningen grabbed two goals in the space of five minutes to take a lead into half time.

To the delight of the home fans Hyun-Jun Suk equalised with an acrobatic overhead kick inside the area. Poor defending all round, with Egan left floundering having just stepped on to the pitch moments earlier and caught badly out of position.

Mitchell Schet put Groningen ahead four minutes later. Breaking away from the attentions of Kieran Richardson with ease, before placing a nice finish beyond Wilson in the Sunderland goal. Both Richardson and Wilson should be disappointed with how easy Schet had it en-route to giving his side a halftime lead.

Despite the scoreline, Martin O'Neill saw it fit to stick with the same players who finished the half, but did switch to more of a 4-4-2 formation, with Campbell put in alongside Wickham as an out-and-out front two.

It didn't make too much of an impact immediately as both sides seemed to cancel each other out for the first 15 minutes or so of the second half. John Egan did look impressive though in defence, with robust challenges and crucial blocks.

O'Neill rang the changes on 60 minutes when Louis Laing was brought on to replace Craig Lynch. Laing slotting into a central defensive position alongside Bramble, with Egan moving to right-back and Craig Gardner more advanced on the right of midfield. Meanwhile in goal, Wilson was replaced by Jordan Pickford.

Gardner's strike was well blocked to force a corner shortly after the hour, and from the resulting corner taken by Colback, Titus Bramble came close to forcing an equaliser.

Jordan Pickford was forced into action early on and did very well to deny Groningen a third goal - very much against the run of play at this point as the final ten minutes loomed.

For those final moments O'Neill made his final change, bringing on Ryan Noble for Kieran Richardson - and the young striker had an immediate impact, crossing towards Colback but the firey-haired midfielder was pipped to the ball by Chilean defender Stefano Magnasco.

Noble was at the heart of the action again as he was well picked out by David Meyler, and this time the strike found his partner Fraizer Campbell who fluffed his lines, sending the ball well over Luciano's goal.

Noble seemed absolutely on fire when he came on, and really looked like the player we'd long hoped he could be as he had a hand in a dramatic late equaliser for Sunderland.

Unselfish play from Noble as laid in Gardner who fizzed the ball across the six-yard box for Campbell to bundle into the net to make things 2-2 with only two minutes plus stoppages to play.

Noble's cameo was topped off in incredible style as in the 90th minute he grabbed the winner - and what a winner it was, worthy of winning any match.

Collecting the ball deep from Meyler, he skipped past one challenge, eluded the attentions of two other defenders before smashing the ball home from the edge of the area into the top corner. A wonderful goal, and a wonderful moment for Noble to grab his first first-team goal. The travelling support sent wild, and Noble even wilder as if he'd just scored a last minute World Cup final winner. A special goal to cap a great performance.

Team (Ratings in brackets)

Starting XI: Wilson (5), Gardner (6), Brown (5), Cuellar (5), Richardson (5), Meyler (6), Cattermole (6), Colback (6), Lynch (5), Campbell (6), Wickham (7)

Subs Used: Pickford (6), Laing (7), Egan (7), Noble (9), Bramble (6)

Man Of The Match: Ryan Noble - He wasn't on for long, but Noble was the real difference-maker for Sunderland. He was pivotal in creating the equalizer before scoring a brilliant solo effort to win it. We've all been waiting for him to show something to justify his reputation as a player of real promise, and this was it. The hope will now be that he can build upon it.


We'll have further reaction and thoughts on the game later on with new feature Quick Kicks, so keep coming back to Roker Report for all your Sunderland needs 24/7.

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