Match Report | Sunderland 0-1 Cardiff City
Cardiff City took a well-earned three points at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon.
In a tale of two halves, Mark Harris' strike just after the interval proved the difference for the Bluebirds, who dominated proceedings throughout the opening 45 minutes of play.
Mark Hudson made one change to the side that started earlier this week, bringing in Sheyi Ojo.
The forward was presented with a good chance early on by Harris, after the Welshman played Ojo inside the area after having won the ball on the halfway line. City’s number 10 dragged the ball back before shooting with his left foot, seeing the effort fly wide of the far post.
City were awarded with a penalty kick a few minutes later, after Jaden Philogene was dragged down whilst running after a loose pass six yards away from the Sunderland goalmouth. Joe Ralls stepped up to take his shot and struck powerfully, but Anthony Patterson picked the right way and denied the City skipper an opener.
Though the Bluebirds looked to dominate the early periods of the fixture, the Black Cats threatened on the counter at times, with their most clear chance presenting itself just before the 20 minute mark. Amad Diallo’s low shot beat Ryan Allsop, and would have put the hosts ahead but for Perry Ng’s terrific goalline clearance.
Another chance presented itself for the Bluebirds with less than ten minutes of the half remaining. Niels Nkounkou’s audacious cross-field pass found the feet of Philogene, who crossed into the area. His low pass flew across the face of goal, with an onrushing Ojo not quite able to connect.
City’s final chance of a dominant opening 45 minutes saw Harris’ missed effort from a one-on-one with Patterson, with the referee’s whistle granting the hosts respite from proceedings.
The Bluebirds were rewarded for their previous efforts early on in the second half, when Mahlon Romeo provided a terrific assist for teammate Harris. The right-back’s incisive pass found the striker at the back post, who struck home at the first time of asking.
Finding their feet following City’s opener, the hosts looked for an equaliser and threatened as the half progressed, with Alex Pritchard hitting the side netting from a free-kick early on.
Following a period of play which saw the hosts press well into the City half, Ellis Simms’ header from a cross hit the top of the netting. Substitutes Curtis Nelson and Andy Rinomhota were subsequently introduced to the field, a change of shape allowing the Bluebirds to adapt for the final 20 minutes.
Nelson was quickly involved in proceedings, seeing two dangerous crosses away in quick succession to frustrate the hosts further.
With 5 minutes remaining, fellow centre-back Cédric Kipré pulled off a wonderful challenge to deny Diallo's dangerous run. Six yards out and under pressure, the loanee slid in well to send the ball clear of danger.
Holding on despite mounting late pressure from the hosts, City bounced back with a hard-fought win away from home, with two more home fixtures to go before the World Cup break.
FULL-TIME: SUNDERLAND 0-1 CARDIFF CITY
Sunderland: Patterson, O'Nien, Wright, Batth, Cirkin, Neil (Pritchard 57'), Ba (Evans 57'), Roberts (Bennette 67'), Diallo, Clarke, Simms (Embleton 73'). Subs not used: Evans, Bass, Matete, Hume.
Cardiff City: Allsop, Romeo, Ng, Kipre, Nkounkou, Wintle, Ralls, Philogene, (Sawyers 58'), Ojo (Nelson 73'), O'Dowda (Rinomhota 73'), Harris (Watters 58', Whyte 90+3'). Subs not used: Alnwick, Sang.