Black Cats beat Preston to start new year in style

4 months ago 135
Nazariy Rusyn scores for SunderlandNazariy Rusyn pokes home his first Sunderland goal from Jack Clarke's low cross to make it 2-0 just before the break

Sunderland returned to the top six of the Championship, for at least a few hours, with a comfortable home victory over Preston.

The influential Alex Pritchard returned to the side and gave the hosts an early lead with his first goal of the season - a superb swerving strike from distance.

After six games on the bench, Ukrainian striker Nazariy Rusyn was also recalled to the starting line-up and netted his first for the club just before the break to ensure boss Michael Beale's first home win in charge of the Black Cats.

After a fourth defeat in five, Preston could find themselves in the bottom half by this evening, while Hull could overhaul Sunderland if they beat Sheffield Wednesday in the 17:15 GMT kick-off.

Championship table

Beale made three changes after the 1-1 draw at Rotherham on Friday, with Aji Alese joining Rusyn and Pritchard in the side, Jenson Seelt and Adil Aouchiche dropping to the bench and Patrick Roberts out because of injury.

North End boss Ryan Lowe also made three changes following their 1-0 defeat by Sheffield Wednesday, as Jordan Storey, Mads Frokjaer and Ched Evans came in for Milutin Osmajic, Jack Whatmough and Duane Holmes.

The start to the first match of 2024 was as bright as the fireworks around the country just over 12 hours earlier as Jack Clarke curled narrowly past the far post inside two minutes, and home keeper Anthony Patterson produced a flying save to deny Ben Whiteman's snap-shot at the other end.

Sunderland's Pierre Ekwah slashed wide from the edge of the box but the deadlock was broken after 10 minutes when Pritchard found space to smash in a swerving 25-yard blockbuster, his first goal since netting at Deepdale on the final day of last season and Sunderland's first at home against Preston since 2004.

Clarke saw a curler saved by Preston keeper Freddie Woodman, who also blocked another effort from Pritchard, while Frokjaer fizzed a shot over the Sunderland bar just before the half hour.

Pritchard sliced an angled drive past the upright but the crucial second arrived just before the break when Clarke broke from his own half, rode a heavy challenge and made the most of a good advantage from the referee to burst down the left and cross low for Rusyn to dart across the defender and poke home his first Black Cats goal on his 10th appearance.

Brad Potts saw a half-volley charged down by Alese, making his first appearance of the season after a thigh injury, after the break and Patterson saved Ali McCann's low effort down the middle soon after as Preston sought a reply.

After a second period short on chances, Potts blazed over from an angle in the closing stages as Preston went goalless for the second successive match.

Line-ups

Sunderland

Formation 4-2-3-1

1Patterson32Hume13O'Nien5Ballard42AleseSubstituted forPembéléat 70'minutes39Ekwah24Neil21PritchardSubstituted forSeeltat 85'minutes7BellinghamSubstituted forMayendaat 85'minutes20Clarke15RusynSubstituted forBaat 76'minutes

Substitutes

6Pembélé11Burstow12Mayenda17Ba22Aouchiche23Seelt25Triantis30Bishop31Rigg

Preston

Formation 4-1-4-1

1Woodman44Potts14Storey6LindsayBooked at 39mins16Hughes13McCannSubstituted forKeaneat 67'minutes8Browne4Whiteman10Frökjaer-JensenSubstituted forRiisat 80'minutes23Millar9EvansSubstituted forOsmajicat 67'minutes

Substitutes

3Cunningham7Keane18Ledson19Riis20Woodburn21Cornell25Holmes28Osmajic33Best

Referee:Oliver Langford

Attendance:42,714

Live Text

Match ends, Sunderland 2, Preston North End 0.

Second Half ends, Sunderland 2, Preston North End 0.

Offside, Preston North End. Milutin Osmajic is caught offside.

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Benjamin Whiteman.

Attempt missed. Brad Potts (Preston North End) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is too high. Assisted by Liam Millar with a cross.

Substitution, Sunderland. Eliezer Mayenda replaces Jobe Bellingham.

Substitution, Sunderland. Jenson Seelt replaces Alex Pritchard.

Foul by Liam Lindsay (Preston North End).

Jobe Bellingham (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution, Preston North End. Emil Riis replaces Mads Frökjaer-Jensen.

Foul by Will Keane (Preston North End).

Dan Ballard (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution, Sunderland. Abdoullah Ba replaces Nazarii Rusyn.

Foul by Brad Potts (Preston North End).

Trai Hume (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Liam Millar (Preston North End) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Timothée Pembélé (Sunderland).

Substitution, Sunderland. Timothée Pembélé replaces Ajibola Alese.

Substitution, Preston North End. Milutin Osmajic replaces Ched Evans.

Substitution, Preston North End. Will Keane replaces Ali McCann.

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