Match Report | Sunderland 0-1 Cardiff City
Mark McGuinness' late header gave Cardiff City a hard-fought three points after a battling display against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
Bluebirds boss Erol Bulut made one change to the starting XI which defeated Coventry City in midweek. Yakou Méïté came in for Ollie Tanner, whilst Andy Rinomhota replaced Romaine Sawyers on the bench.
The hosts, occupying a Play-Off position coming into the clash, enjoyed the better chances of the first half. Dimi Goutas was called into action to make a block on the goal-line, before Sunderland midfielder Dan Neil fired over the bar from the resulting corner.
Karlan Grant looked bright on City's left, cutting in from the flank and firing on goal, but his effort cleared the crossbar.
Late in the half, Jak Alnwick made a fine low save from Jack Clarke, who had cut inside from the left wing before unleashing a strike.
Despite pressure from Tony Mowbray's men, the two sides went in at the break with the match goalless.
The Bluebirds made one change at the interval, with Tanner coming on to replace Grant. Sunderland started well after the break, with Alnwick at full stretch to deny Alex Pritchard from the egde of the box.
Mark McGuinness and his defensive partner Dimi Goutas put their bodies on the line on more than one occasion inside the first 10 minutes of the second half; Goutas produced a stretching clearance to divert Clarke's low ball, whilst McGuinness made two great blocks within a matter of seconds to keep the Black Cats out.
City's best chance of the opening 60 minutes fell to Iké Ugbo; the striker did well to collect Tanner's clever low cross, but fired over the bar after turning inside the area.
The hosts continued to apply pressure, with Alnwick continuing to impress between the sticks. The former Newcastle United man pulled off a fine reflex save to deny Patrick Roberts from close range.
Substitutes Rubin Colwill and Kion Etete looked to combine on the break in the latter stages. The striker almost broke through the Black Cats' backline with some dancing feet - however, the ball was pinched from him as he was about to pull the trigger.
With three minutes to play, a sloppy pass from Sunderland gave City a corner, which was delivered perfectly by Ryan Wintle. Macca got the right side of his man, and nodded home past Anthony Patterson to give the Bluebirds a late lead.
Continuing to defend resolutely, the Bluebirds almost added a second on the break. Wintle could have turned from provider to scorer; he latched onto Tanner's pass, but brought a 1v1 save from Patterson.
Tanner himself should have put the result beyond doubt minutes later, but he fired over the bar with only the keeper to beat. The Bluebirds held on to pick up their third consecutive win, moving up to seventh place in the Championship table.
FULL TIME: SUNDERLAND 0-1 CARDIFF CITY
Sunderland: Patterson, Hume, O'Nien, Ballard, Huggins (Rusyn 88'), Neil, Ba (Roberts 62'), Bellingham (Aouchiche 63'), Pritchard, Clarke, Burstow (Semedo 63').
Subs not used: Bishop, Seelt, Triantis, Rigg, Taylor.
Cardiff City: Alnwick, Ng, McGuinness, Goutas, Collins, Siopis, Ralls (Adams, 77'), Wintle (Romeo 90+3’), Grant (Tanner 46'), Méïté (R. Colwill 63'), Ugbo (Etete 63').
Subs not used: Rúnarsson, Panzo, Rinomhota, Robinson.