Sunderland 2 Blackburn Rovers 1: match report
Kenwyne Jones went flipping crazy at the Stadium of Light with two goals that enabled Sunderland manager Steve Bruce to celebrate a home victory for the first time at the Stadium of Light. The Trinidad & Tobago striker went head-over-heels with his trademark somersaults following goals in either half as Sunderland overcome an early deficit, after Gael Givet put Rovers ahead, to maintain their promising start to the season under Bruce. Despite being surprisingly without the unsettled Stephen Warnock, Rovers had dominated the early exchanges and Jason Roberts had a 'goal' disallowed for an apparent push on Marton Fulop following Morten Gamst Pedersen's corner. The visitors lost Franco di Santo to a hamstring injury, with debutant Nikola Kalinic replacing him in the 15th minute, but still they continued to hold the upper hand thanks to Sunderland's defensive shortcomings. Fulop pulled off an excellent save to deny former Sunderland winger El Hadji Diouf after he let fly from distance, but parity was short-lived as Sam Allardyce's team took maximum advantage of Sunderland's weaknesses at set-plays. The Sunderland defence was sixes and sevens when Pedersen curled in a far-post corner that was drifting into touch when Lee Cattermole waved a foot at the ball which fell to left-back Givet on the edge of the box and he struck a low shot through a sea of legs for his first goal in Blackburn colours. The equalizer came courtesy of Steed Malbranque's dexterity. Jones was the beneficiary of Malbranque's sumptuous work, latching on to his outside-of-the-foot through-ball, deftly lifting the ball over the onrushing Paul Robinson before slotting the ball into an empty net. Allardyce suffered a fresh setback when he had to re-jig his defence at half-time, with talismanic Ryan Nelsen unfit to continue at centre-half, and Sunderland took maximum advantage of his absence as Jones leapt above his substitute Martin Olsson to powerfully nod Lee Cattermole's excellent left-footed cross beyond Robinson from eight yards out in the 54th minute. Rovers' response was impressive but Allardyce was left fuming when Steve Nzonzi's header sailed beyond Fulop, only for Chris Samba to be somewhat harshly penalised for offside. Sunderland lived dangerously throughout due to fragility at set-plays and Benni McCarthy headed against the crossbar from close-range after Samba nodded Pedersen's free-kick across the goalmouth, leaving Allardyce frustrated on the sidelines as his team were worryingly left without a point from their two outings this season.
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