Sunderland 0-2 Leeds: Leeds make light of Chris Wood absence
By Robert O'Connor
Last Updated: 21/08/17 11:46am
Leeds pulled off a commanding 2-0 win against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light to continue their bright start to the Championship season, thanks to goals from Samuel Siaz and Stuart Dallas.
Saiz struck midway through the first half just seconds after Sunderland's Lewis Grabban had seen a shot cleared off the line, as the visitors prepared for life without Burnley-bound striker Chris Wood.
Wood was left out of the squad by manager Thomas Christiansen ahead of a proposed £15m move to the Premier League, as Leeds lost young striker Caleb Ekuban and attacking midfielder Pablo Hernandez to injury.
Chris Woods was left out for Leeds ahead of his proposed move to Burnley; Saiz started up front.Vaughan and Grabban led the line for Sunderland.
Substitute Dallas added a late second following good work from Saiz and man of the match Ezgjan Alioski to move Leeds up to fifth.
The hosts had started the brighter of the two and nearly took the lead when Grabban cut inside following a through ball from James Vaughan but saw his strike headed against the bar by Leeds' Liam Cooper.
And 70 seconds later Leeds were ahead, the excellent Alioski muscling through and slipping in for Saiz to fire low past Jason Steele.
Sunderland: Steele (6), Jones (7), Browning (6), Galloway (6), Kone (7), Cattermole (7), Ndong (6), Honeyman (7), Grabban (7), McGeady (7), Vaughan (6)
Subs: Asoro (6), Matthews (6), Khazri (5)
Leeds: Wiedwald (6), Ayling (7), Cooper (8), Jansson (7), Anita (7), Phillips (6), O'Kane (7), Saiz (8), Hernandez(6), Alioski (8), Ekuban (7)
Subs: Shaughnessy (6), Roofe (7), Dallas (7)
Man of the match: Alioski
Ekuban was forced off injured following a clash with Lamine Kone to add to Christiansen's attacking headache ahead of the departure of New Zealand international Wood. Dallas completed the victory late on with a fine far-post header after Alioski has set up Saiz to cross.
Simon Grayson: "I don't think you could fault the players effort, commitment and work rate because they were going right to the final whistle. The key moments in the game were the difference.
"For 20 minutes, we started the game really well and Grabban's effort has hit (Liam) Cooper on the head and then hit the bar. Unfortunately, they went down the other end and 60/70 seconds later and we are 1-0 and that was against the run of play."
Thomas Christensen: "I believe it's very important for the team and for the confidence. We're still unbeaten and that's important. We had to face a very good team, a strong team. We knew their strengths and we had to put ourselves into the game. But I believe we controlled it all."
(On Chris Wood) "It's not a one man show, we are a team. Today we worked as a team, not individuals. Everyone showed they can play.
"When one player doesn't want to stay then there's nothing to do. I can understand his situation. He could also have the possibility to grow with Leeds but it's his decision, I have to respect it. The club has decided to accept the offer [from Burnley]. It's just a matter to make the medical check."
Man if the match - Ezgjan Alioski
Pace, trickery and strength from the Macedonian winger, who will likely now need to take on more attacking responsibility in the absence of Wood, was instrumental in both goals and looked unpredictable every time he ran at Sunderland.
Both sides are in Carabao Cup second-round action on Tuesday night against League Two opposition, with Sunderland travelling to Carlisle and Leeds hosting Newport.