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Premier League

  • 21 January 2012
  • • 15:00
  • • Stadium of Light, Sunderland
  • Referee: C. Foy
  • • Attendance: 36904
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Sunderland 2-0 Swansea City: Sessegnon & Gardner goals in each half decisive as O'Neill's men return to winning ways

Sunderland 2-0 Swansea City: Sessegnon & Gardner goals in each half decisive as O'Neill's men return to winning ways

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Two stunning goals in each half hand the Black Cats all three points after the visitors are brought down to earth with a bang after last weekend's win over Arsenal

Sunderland earned a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Swansea City at the Stadium of Light thanks to a brilliant first-half finish from Stephane Sessegnon and a superb volley in the 84th minute from Craig Gardner, as they taught the away side a lesson in finishing.

The hosts took the lead in the 14th minute thanks to Sessegnon’s exquisite goal, as he chipped the ball over Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm. However, after this early setback the Swans began to play the passing football that has so impressed in recent weeks, but were unable to create any clear goalscoring opportunities.

Swansea enjoyed far more possession than the home side, and despite the efforts of midfielders Joe Allen and Gylfi Sigurdsson largely dominating the midfield, the Black Cats were resilient in defence and worked very hard to continue their recent revival under manager Martin O’Neill. They put the result beyond doubt in the 84th minute thanks to a stunning volley from outside the penalty area by substitute Craig Gardner, ensuring a 2-0 victory.

Sunderland welcomed central defender Wes Brown back into the starting eleven after his recovery from the groin injury he sustained in the 1-0 victory over Manchester City, in the only change to their team from their 1-0 defeat away to Chelsea.

Meanwhile, Swansea handed a full debut to Hoffenheim loanee Gylfi Sigurdsson, while highly-rated midfielder Josh McEachran could only make the bench, having joined on loan from Chelsea for the rest of the season. Sigurdsson’s inclusion at the expense of Kemy Augustein was the Swans’ only change from the team that beat Arsenal 3-2 in their previous match.

The teams kicked off in a swirling wind at the Stadium of Light, which favoured the home side during the first half. Sunderland signalled their intentions early in the match by playing a high defensive line, and it was the Black Cats who had the first chance in the fifth minute, as Sebastian Larsson saw a back-post volley go just wide after a good cross by Kieran Richardson. Unfortunately, Sunderland striker Nicklas Bendtner was forced to go off with a cut to the head in the 11th minute, to be replaced by Connor Wickham.

Having absorbed the pressure of Sunderland’s attacking play, Swansea managed to create a chance of their own after some good work by Leon Britton. The ball found its way to Scott Sinclair, but his shot went over the bar from inside the penalty area. Swansea were made to regret Sinclair’s miss, as with their next attack, Sunderland took the lead in the 14th minute. James McLean and Stephane Sessegnon played a one-two, and Sessegnon finished brilliantly to give the home side a deserved 1-0 lead.

Sessegnon sizzler | Sunderland open the scoring in style at the Stadium of Light

Having taken the lead, Sunderland began to exert even more pressure on the Swansea goal, but could not quite create any more clear chances to double their advantage. The Swans grew into the first half and began to play some good passes, with Sigurdsson beginning to exert some influence in the midfield. However, Sunderland’s impressive work-rate prevented the away side from fashioning any goalscoring opportunities, with Larsson and McClean impressing in their respective wide roles.

Despite enjoying more possession than the home side in the first half, Swansea went into the interval trailing 1-0, but looked dangerous in their attacking play and would have been hopeful of creating more chances to draw level with their hosts.

The second half began in a more sedate way than the first half, but both sides were still playing with intent and looking to attack at any opportunity. Despite a goalmouth scramble that they just managed to clear, Swansea were again enjoying good periods of possession, with Joe Allen being very effective in the midfield against an increasingly frustrated Lee Cattermole.

Gylfi Sigurdsson was continuing to impress on his full debut for the visitors, and saw a free kick from 25 yards out in the 57th minute just pushed away by Sunderland’s goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and playing a key role in exerting further pressure in the Black Cats’ half. However, the Icelandic midfielder was substituted in the 65th minute, as Chelsea starlet Josh McEachran was brought on for his debut as a loanee for the Swans.

Despite the away side largely dominating possession, it was Sunderland who created the next clear chance, as after a good cross from the left by McClean, Sessegnon sent his header just wide of the post, under pressure from Swansea’s Neil Taylor. Unfortunately, despite the away side largely dominating possession, the work rate of the Sunderland players meant any attacking threats from the Swans were cancelled out.

Swansea kept pressing forward, looking for an equaliser, but were unable to force any mistakes from the obdurate Sunderland defence. After absorbing the pressure from the visitors, the home side doubled their advantage in the 84th minute thanks to a stunning volley from substitute Craig Gardner, putting the result beyond any doubt. From outside the Swansea penalty area, Gardner took the ball down on his chest before striking the ball into the top corner to seal the victory in some style.

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