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Chronicle Live
James Hunter

Sunderland 3-0 Millwall report as Black Cats resume campaign and move into Championship top ten

Sunderland climbed into the top ten as they beat Millwall at the Stadium of Light to pick up where they left off before the World Cup break. Second-half goals from Amad and Alex Pritchard before the hour put the Black Cats in a commanding position, with Ellis Simms putting the icing on the cake in injury-time.

Sunderland were below-par in the first period but improved markedly in the second, and they deserved their win - although the scoreline perhaps flattered them a little. But Tony Mowbray and his players will not be concerned about that, and instead they celebrated completing their first back-to-back wins of the season.

Sunderland had won at Birmingham City going into the break, and they have now resumed their campaign with a home win against the Lions. Victory lifted them to tenth in the table, and they are now just a single point outside the play-off spots as the season nears its halfway point.

READ MORE: Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray hopes for exciting second half of the season

Mowbray made three changes to the side that started the win at Birmingham, with Luke O'Nien returning from suspension while Lynden Gooch and Aji Alese were both back in action after recovering from foot injuries that had kept them out since mid-October. They replaced Bailey Wright, who is away on World Cup duty, Trai Hume, and Niall Huggins.

There was no place in the squad for striker Ross Stewart, with Mowbray saying in the build-up to the game that while he was approaching full fitness, it would be 'a gamble' to involve him. Millwall boss Gary Rowett named the same XI that beat Preston North End at Deepdale last time out, with former Sunderland skipper and academy product George Honeyman included in the Lions' side.

Sunderland were slow out of the blocks, with Millwall looking a yard quicker and far sharper. Corry Evans made a crucial block to deny Honeyman after a low cross from the right had been kept alive at the far post and played into the Millwall man's path on the penalty spot.

And then Sunderland were almost caught out by a long kick from Millwall keeper George Long, with Tom Bradshaw outmuscled O'Nien on the edge of the box and Anthony Patterson came off his line to collect the bouncing ball but hesitated and found himself stranded in no-man's land as Bradshaw looped a header over him, but fortunately Danny Batth got back to clear just in front of the line. Sunderland eventually began to work their way into the game and just after the half-hour Amad should have got a shot away when an effort from Jack Clarke was deflected into his path, but he tried to take too many touches and the chance was gone.

Neat work from Amad and Pritchard set up a shooting chance for Simms outside the box, but his strike was straight at Long. Millwall should have gone in front in injury time at the end of the first period, however, when Patterson made a mistake and passed straight to Zian Flemming but the Dutchman sent his shot narrowly wide of the left-hand post.

But in the second half, Sunderland improved significantly and took the lead eight minutes after the restart. Pritchard did brilliantly down the left, albeit with a little good fortune as a touch from Charlie Cresswell fell kindly into his path, but he raced into the penalty area and found Simms with a low cross.

Simms' attempted flick lacked the power to find the net, but there was Amad at the far post to finish from close range. Millwall came close to an equaliser a couple of minutes later when Cresswell met a Honeyman corner with a firm header, but Dan Neil was in the right place on the line to head over his own crossbar.

And Sunderland gave themselves some breathing space on 59 minutes as they doubled their lead. This time it was Gooch who did the spadework down the right, beating his man and getting into the box before finding Pritchard with a pass and the midfielder took a couple of touches to beat defenders and work a shooting chance, before hitting an effort that although Long got a hand on it, the ball squeezed between him and the right-hand upright.

Simms teed-up Neil for a shot on the edge of the box which the youngster dragged just wide. As the clock ticked on, Sunderland were managing the game well and largely managed to keep Millwall at arm's length.

And the Black Cats added a third goal in the fourth minute of added time as a long clearance from Patterson was misjudged by Cresswell which let Simms in behind him, and he lifted the ball over the advancing keeper to leave himself with a tap-in.

How they lined up

Sunderland: Patterson, Gooch, .O'Nien, Batth, Alese, Evans, Neil, Amad (Roberts 74), Pritchard (Embleton 63), Clarke (Cirkin 80), Simms. Subs not used: Bass, Hume, Dajaku, Ba

Booked: Gooch

Millwall: Long, McNamara (Evans 82), Cresswell, Cooper, Wallace (Malone 82), Mitchell, Saville (Shackleton 67), Voglsammer (Bennett 67), Flemming, Honeyman (Styles 67), Bradshaw. Subs not used: Bialkowski, Hutchinson

Booked: Saville, Honeyman, Mitchell

Referee: Tim Robinson (West Sussex)

Attendance: 37,012


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