Sunderland lost 2-1 to Middlesbrough at the SOL on Sunday lunchtime and if ever a performance signalled the need for serious investment to Ellis Short then this was it. The lads trailed 2-0 at half time thanks to a brace from Cristhian Stuani and although Patrick van Aanholt's second half strike did muster some sort of a fight back David Moyes side look worryingly short of the quality needed at the top level.
We lined up with Mannone in goal behind a back four of van Aanholt, O’Shea, Djiliobodj and Love. In a five man midfield were McNair, Rodwell and Gooch with Watmore and Januzaj either side of them looking to supply Defoe operating as a lone striker.
Sunderland started well enough with Januzaj causing the Boro defence a few problems with a direct run down the right flank but Brad Guzan was equal to his cross. Defoe forced a corner when he found a yard on the edge of the box but his shot deflected wide for a corner which was hit far too deep from Januzaj and allowed Boro to break and score.
In their first venture forward Stuani unleashed an unstoppable shot from the right flank finding the top corner and leaving Mannone helpless. You could maybe point the finger at the Sunderland defence for backing off the winger but in all honesty you’d be asking him to shoot from that angle not expecting to produce such a stunning effort.
Sunderland tried to get back in the game but with the visitors happy to sit on the lead this proved difficult with David Moyes’ side struggling to create anything going forward. Jermaine Defoe did have the ball in the back of the net after half an hour when he broke clear but the linesman flagged for offside even though he looked to have timed his run to perfection. Defoe had another effort on goal when he was teed up by Watmore but he fired straight at Defoe before we were dealt another huge injury blow when John O’Shea limped off and was replaced by new signing Steven Pienaar. Jack Rodwell moved from midfield to centre half to replace O’Shea with Pienaar taking over skipper duties.
Right before the break Sunderland were hit with another sucker punch when Boro doubled their advantage with Stuani again finding the net after Negrado easily skinned Rodwell in the six yard box to put the ball on a plate for him. Moyes reacted at half time by replacing McNair with Lens and Sunderland did make a fist of the game with half an hour remaining.
Januzaj missed a sitter before van Aanholt saw his shot deflected wide then Lens was guilty of another wasted opportunity after blazing over after being set up by Januzaj. Jermaine Defoe almost got a goal back when he fired at Guzan from close range before van Aanholt did find the net to pounce on a loose ball after Watmore forced a save from Guzan.
Sunderland continued to pile forward but lacked a real cutting edge despite the introduction of Asoro whilst at the other end Mannone had to be alert to race off his line to deny Negrado and the visitors hung on for the victory. Sunderland’s shambolic summer continues and on this showing we are in for another season of struggle unless the cheque book comes out.
Final Score – Sunderland 1 Middlesbrough 2
ALS Man of the Match – Lynden Gooch
ALS T Shirts click here