Sheffield United 3-0 Sunderland
Sheffield United thrashed Sunderland in a one-sided pummeling that keeps the Black Cats in the relegation zone in the Championship.
A first half strike from John Lundstram and two goals in five minutes in the second half from Richard Stearman and George Baldock secured the points for Chris Wilder’s side at Bramall Lane.
Chris Coleman’s men were awful, lacking confidence, intensity and a coherent plan against the Blades in what was most certainly an afternoon to forget.
Sunderland got off to a poor start, struggling to match Sheffield’s intensity whilst also being wasteful in possession.
The Black Cats were let off in the fifth minute when Clayton Donaldson escaped John O’Shea’s attention to go through on goal. Rather than test Robin Ruiter, the Blades frontman opted to cross, but ended up spraying the ball beyond his teammates. Sunderland’s stopper did well to close in quickly on the striker and force him into an error.
United were totally dominant throughout the first fifteen minutes, with the Black Cats fortunate when Donaldson missed badly on the volley from eight yards. The flag had been raised against the striker, but the chance was reflective of Sunderland’s lacklustre start.
The game diminished into a scrappy arm-wrestle in midfield with both teams struggling to create chances and string passes together in a poor first half-hour.
United remained the better team and Donaldson was picked out beyond the Mackems back-line, again. Ruiter won the individual duel for a second time, tipping the ball away from goal before Donaldson could get his shot off.
The hosts took a deserved lead in the 36th minute. After a great Mark Duffy run down Sunderland’s right, the midfielder picked out Lundstram who passed into the corner first time.
With half time approaching Sunderland gave up another golden chance. Centre half Jack O’Connell glanced wide, unmarked within ten yards of the Sunderland goal from a corner.
Sunderland survived until half-time just a goal down, despite an awful first half showing where thr team failed to produce any moments of quality.
Half Time: Sheffield United 1-0 Sunderland (Lundstram 36)
⚽️ HT SCORE: Blades 1 @SunderlandAFC 0 #twitterblades pic.twitter.com/3ck7LtC2CT— Sheffield United (@SUFC_tweets) December 26, 2017
Sunderland improved initially after the break, playing more direct football, with a greater sense of urgency. Coleman also switched to a back four in an attempt to take the game to United.
The visitors still couldn’t create any goal-scoring opportunities and surrendered a cheap second in the 58th minute. Brian Oviedo conceded a free kick for his rash foul on Leon Clarke, scything down the striker.
Duffy’s whipped out-swinging free kick was missed by all Sunderland defenders and headed home by Stearman. The defender dived in to nod beyond Ruiter, with no Sunderland player in sight.
Moments later it was three - O’Connell’s driven cross was headed in by George Baldock six yards out. The wing-back climbing above his opposite number to power home, and Robbin Ruiter was beaten by the sheer pace of the header.
Despite Coleman’s offensive substitutions bringing on Callum McManaman, Joel Asoro and Josh Maja, the game fell flat. Sunderland failed to create any clear chances and United were comfortable, humiliating the Mackems.
Sunderland were put out of their misery succumbing to a 3-0 defeat in a performance as bad as any in a largely joyless year.
Full Time: Sheffield United 3-0 Sunderland (Ludstram 36, Stearman 58, Baldock 62)
Robin Ruiter, 6/10: Did well one on one with Donaldson twice, but was let down by those in-front of him.
Adam Matthews, 5/10: One of the only Sunderland performers who didn’t look scared of the ball, struggled defensively though.
Tyias Browning, 4/10: His nervousness in possession seemed to affect all around him, not good enough for Coleman’s system.
John O’Shea, 5/10: Passive display, typical of his time in Sunderland, cowardly in possession, non-factor in defence.
Marc Wilson, 4/10: The only Sunderland centre back willing to be positive on the ball, unfortunately almost all his passes went astray. Culpable defensively like the rest too.
Brian Oviedo , 5/10: Bellow par in his return from injury, will be important going forward as one of few Sunderland players with actual quality at this level.
Lynden Gooch, 4/10: Struggled badly, looked lightweight and showed little quality in possession.
Darron Gibson, 4/10: Improved after an utterly dreadful start, but another who looked lethargic and one-paced.
George Honeyman, 4/10: Another who lacked the necessary quality to impact the game, wasteful in possession.
Aiden McGeady, 5/10: Anonymous for large stretches of the game, struggled to make an impact.
James Vaughan, 5/10: Starved of service throughout, but made poor decisions and failed to bring his teammates into play when he did get ball.
(SUB) Joel Asoro, 5/10: Did little after being introduced with the game already lost.
(SUB) Josh Maja, 5/10: Struggled today, deserves more minutes in future ahead of Vaughan.
(SUB) Callum McManaman, 6/10: Produced Sunderland’s only good cross of the game, did little otherwise.
Man of the Match: Robbin Ruiter.