Sunderland ease past Blackburn
GOALS from all three of Sunderland's main strikers helped the Black Cats to a routine 3-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers. Danny Welbeck scored his sixth of the season and Darren Bent broke his goal duck as Sunderland sprinted into a 2-0 lead at the Stadium of Light. And Asamoah Gyan made it three on 89 minutes to ensure Sunderland started 2010 in the best possible fashion. After failing to take advantage of 32 chances against Blackpool on Tuesday, Sunderland's first two efforts against Blackburn Rovers yielded two goals. Firstly, Welbeck scored on 11 minutes after Ahmed Elmohamady's cross was headed out by Ryan Nelsen, only as far as the on-loan Manchester United man, whose shot was deflected past goalkeeper Mark Bunn by the New Zealand international. The common denominator in Sunderland's first-half salvo was Egyptian Elmohamady, who sent in another teasing cross on 19 minutes. This time, Bent rose above Rovers right-back Grant Hanley to glance a textbook header past Bunn. Blackburn, looking a completely different side to the one that won 3-1 at West Brom in midweek, had a couple of first-half chances, the pick of the bunch being former Black Cat El Hadj Diouf who blazed over from three yards on 35 minutes after Morten Gamst Pedersen found the Senegalese forward unmarked. Welbeck attempted a cheeky lob over Bunn on 37 minutes but his effort bounced on to the crossbar. While Bent had exorcised a few demons in scoring for the first time since Wolves in November, the England striker still conspired to squander a handful of second-half chances evidence that Bent has still not hit top form since his injury earlier in the season. Jordan Henderson came within a lick of paint of making it three for Sunderland when his curling effort, after a good pass from Bolo Zenden, hit the angle between crossbar and post. But Gyan, an 82nd minute replacement for Bent, handed Sunderland all three points when he received Zenden's pass, carried the ball and curled his shot past Brett Emerton and Bunn to seal the game. SUNDERLAND (4-4-2): Gordon; Bardsley, Ferdinand, Bramble, Richardson; Elmohamady (Angeleri 86), Meyler, Henderson, Malbranque; Welbeck (Zenden 69), Bent (Gyan 82). Subs not used: Mignolet (gk), Da Silva, Riveros, Cook. BLACKBURN (4-5-1): Bunn; Hanley (Benjani 46), Givet, Nelsen, Olsson; EH Diouf, Dunn (Goulon 85), Emerton, Pedersen, Hoillett (Morris 78); M Diouf. Subs not used: Fielding (gk), Linganzi, Doran, Goulon, Lowe. Referee: Mike Dean.
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