Sheffield United 3-0 Sunderland: Blades back to winning ways
Last Updated: 26/12/17 7:07pm
Sheffield United moved back into the Sky Bet Championship play-off positions after two goals in three second-half minutes saw them breeze to a 3-0 victory over lowly Sunderland at Bramall Lane.
John Lundstram put the Blades on the way to a first win in seven games in the 36th minute when he slotted home a cross at the far post from Mark Duffy, who tormented the Black Cats all afternoon.
Richard Stearman doubled United's lead in the 59th minute with a fierce header into the bottom corner before George Baldock made it three with a close-range header into the roof of the net moments later.
It was United's first win since November 17 at Burton, since when they had only taken two points to spiral out of the top-six.
The result also ended Sunderland's three-match unbeaten run as they remained in the drop zone, their job in South Yorkshire made all the harder without 12-goal top scorer Lewis Grabban, who was out with a calf injury.
United made the brighter start with Duffy central to their attacking play, unleashing a fierce drive which hit team-mate Leon Clarke in the box.
The hosts should have been ahead in the 14th minute when Duffy found Clayton Donaldson, who had got ahead of his marker in front of goal only to steer the ball across goalkeeper Robbin Ruiter and wide.
It took the visitors 21 minutes to have an attack of note as the game entered a lull with both teams guilty of some sloppy play. United took the lead when Duffy played the ball across the box, evading everyone apart from Lundstram, who slotted home at the far post.
The hosts came close again when Jack O'Connell met Duffy's floated corner only to head the ball wide. It took Sunderland until the 43rd minute to have their first shot of note when Aiden McGeady's fierce drive was blocked by Stearman.
United picked up where they left off after the break, enjoying greater possession and with Donaldson and Duffy causing problems. McGeady sent a low free-kick across the box for the Black Cats that evaded everyone but two goals in quick succession cemented the win.
Again Duffy was involved for the second, curling a free-kick into the box which found Stearman, the former Fulham and Wolves man powering a header home. Minutes later and United had a third, Clarke laying the ball back for O'Connell to cross to Baldock, who headed into the roof of the net.
Clarke and Enda Stevens got in each other's way in front of goal and Donaldson was just denied from Clarke's low ball across the box.
Chris Wilder: "I've put them under a bit of pressure recently and we have slipped our standards but I thought that the performance at Villa Park, coming back from 2-0 down, spoke volumes about what they are about really.
"We've had a big hole in our team with the likes of 'Brooksy' (David Brooks), 'Duff' (Mark Duffy), 'Couttsy' (Paul Coutts) and 'Flecky' (John Fleck) missing.
"I believe it was a big result [against Aston Villa], not the biggest point in Sheffield United's history, but I thought it was a big step forward and it was important we carried it on today.
"And we did and we got a little bit of the old swagger back that has seen us produce those type of performances in the first half of the season."
Chris Coleman: "It is a bitterly disappointing performance. As soon as we went 1-0 down we just accepted a low-level performance from each other.
"It is the first time I have seen from them - when you are in that position it's not anger, it's apathy which is very, very dangerous. So it was a lot of food for thought looking at it.
"Seven games and four weeks I've been here and I have never seen that performance. We haven't won every game but we've been in games but we were never in that game, not really if we are being honest."