Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Sunderland end wait for a win with deserved success at Cardiff

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 29 Mar 2024

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Sunderland celebrated their first victory for nearly two months as Jobe Bellingham shone in a 2-0 Sky Bet Championship win at Cardiff.

Bellingham won an early penalty that Adil Aouchiche dispatched comfortably before the 18-year-old striker providing breathing space after 27 minutes with his seventh goal of the season.

Sunderland’s first success since Mike Dodds was appointed interim manager until the end of the season following the sacking of Michael Beale was fully merited.

The Black Cats belied their poor form to produce a slick performance that killed off Cardiff’s faint play-off hopes, moving to within two points of them in mid-table.

Cardiff had won four successive games before suffering the pain of losing the South Wales derby at Swansea before the international break two weeks ago.

Sunderland had stopped the rot of six successive defeats with a goalless draw against QPR last time out and began the day nine points above the relegation zone.

Their hopes of a first win since February 10 were lifted after 12 minutes when Dimitrios Goutas gave away possession and his haste to make amends saw him put an arm on Bellingham’s back.

Bellingham needed no invitation to go to ground and, three days on from Wales’ painful Euro 2024 shoot-out exit, the Canton End was the backdrop to another spot-kick.

France Under-20 midfielder Aouchiche converted with ease and Cardiff’s reaction to the early setback was poor.

Abdoullah Ba tested Ethan Horvath at the near post, Dan Neil curled over from 20 yards, and Sunderland should have doubled their advantage when Bellingham freed Chris Rigg.

Horvath scampered from goal to deny the 16-year-old and Cardiff cleared the danger. However, Sunderland’s wait for a second goal lasted a matter of moments.

Aouchiche found room on the right and his cross was volleyed home from close range by the stretching Bellingham.

Loud boos greeted the half-time whistle with Cardiff off the pace and the visitors’ solitary moment of discomfort coming from a free-kick when Goutas headed straight at Sunderland goalkeeper Anthony Patterson.

Cardiff sent on Aaron Ramsey – who had stayed on the bench as Wales bowed out of Euro 2024 on Tuesday – for the second period with the Bluebirds desperately seeking impetus.

But Sunderland continued to dominate and Neil went close with a deflected effort before Nat Phillips prevented Bellingham from capitalising further.

Cardiff called on their set-piece potency as Goutas’ header skimmed the crossbar but Ba and substitutes Hemir and Romain Mundle all had clear openings to increase Sunderland’s advantage.

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