Sunderland managed to take all three points at home to fellow strugglers Hull City at the Stadium of Light this afternoon in what was a thoroughly impressive performance from Chris Coleman’s side.
Joel Asoro’s first half goal was all it took, with Sunderland’s energy and work-rate seeing them through until the end of he game, riding through some late pressure from the away team.
The win keeps the Black Cats in the bottom three but puts them right back in the mix, dragging Hull down into the fight with us.
Our first half display was genuinely impressive. From the off we got right at Hull and ensured we won the majority of the second balls, with Robson, Cattermole and Honeyman in particular working tirelessly both in and out of possession.
Our wing backs got forward too, and in fairness to Billy Jones he was an outlet down the right, constantly attacking Hull’s left back Aina - it was a shame that he went off early doors as he was enjoying a rare decent performance before succumbing to an eventual head injury.
Josh Maja and Joel Asoro linked up brilliantly and caused Michael Dawson and Michael Hector all kinds of problems with their movement and pace. Asoro in particular was a constant threat, linking up play and winning us free kicks in dangerous areas.
The goal from Sweden U21 international Asoro was a deserved one, and well-taken as well - a brilliantly weighted pass put the nippy front-man in on goal and he finished well, beyond Allan McGregor and into the net.
We continued on throughout the remainder of the first period as we started, growing in confidence as the game went on. Lee Cattermole was clearly benefitting from having the energy of Ethan Robson alongside him and the two complemented each other perfectly, with Hull’s central pair of Sebastian Larsson and David Meyler struggling to get a foothold in the game.
Sunderland saw out the half in a comfortable fashion and in truth could have been even further ahead had it been for even just a slight improvement in quality.
HT with the lads very deservedly 1-0 up. Very positive half with both strikers, Robson, Cattermole and Clarke-Salter impressing. Let’s keep it up! #SAFC— Roker Report (@RokerReport) January 20, 2018
We had a similar intensity at the start of the second half as we did in the first. Joel Asoro continued to cause Hull issues with his pace and unpredictability, and it was evident that the central defensive pair of Hector and Dawson just didn’t know how to deal with him.
Sunderland, in truth, should have been two-up ten minutes into the second half.
George Honeyman did brilliantly to muscle his man off the ball on the byline and passed it straight across Hull’s empty goal, but nobody was there to meet it and danger was cleared.
Hull then began to change up their style, and went more direct in a bid to find an equaliser. Several very good chances were wasted, and Sunderland got incredibly lucky when Fraizer Campbell fluffed his lines after a good opportunity presented itself to him inside the 18-yard box.
The home side then attempted to see the game out and sat off their opponents, recycling possession where possible whilst trying to work the ball to Asoro in dangerous areas.
Despite a late rally from the away side, Sunderland’s work-rate shone through and Coleman’s side were able to achieve the victory in a deserved fashion.
Robbin Ruiter, 6/10: Didn’t have a great deal to do. Some of his distribution was poor but otherwise did a job.
Bryan Oviedo, 7/10: Got forward well and was solid defensively. Gave a pretty decent wing-back performance.
Jake Clarke-Salter, 8/10: Much more assured than against Cardiff. Some good last-ditch defending in the second half.
John O’Shea, 7/10: Struggled on occasion with long balls and pace in behind but kept us ticking over and lead the back five well.
Tyias Browning, 8/10: An absolute rock. Kept Fraizer Campbell quiet throughout.
Billy Jones, 7/10: Whisper it quietly but he actually did really well before he went off injured.
Lee Cattermole, 8/10: More like the Cattermole of old. Benefitted from the youth around him and got stuck in.
Ethan Robson, 8/10: Fantastic. Kept play ticking over; was energetic and very good in possession. An impressive league debut.
George Honeyman, 8/10: Set the goal up, put another great chance on a plate and was all over the park. Was really up for it.
Joel Asoro, 9/10: Outstanding display. Caused the Hull defence nightmares all afternoon with his pace and energy, and took his goal well. Will need to see it back but seemed unlucky to get booked for diving.
Josh Maja, 7/10: Impressive opening 45 but clearly tired in the second half. Showed some neat touches and dropped deep to link up play often. He and Asoro had a good understanding.
(SUB) Adam Matthews, 7/10: Slotted in comfortably to replace the injured Jones.
(SUB) Lynden Gooch, 6/10: Came on and worked hard.
Man of the Match: Joel Asoro.