Swansea take advantage of early Luke O’Nien red card to beat spirited Sunderland
Swansea made their numerical advantage count as they beat 10-man Sunderland 3-1 at the Stadium of Light.
Luke O’Nien’s early dismissal meant the Black Cats had to play more than 70 minutes with a player less, and while they kept their opponents out until the interval, they were blown away as Swansea scored three goals in the second half.
Joel Piroe opened the scoring in the 50th minute, and while Dan Neil equalised for a spirited Sunderland, Liam Cullen and Ollie Cooper scored two goals in the space of eight minutes to ensure the points went back to south Wales.
Sunderland started the game brightly, and were marginally the better team when both sides had 11 players on the field, with Patrick Roberts firing an early free-kick over the crossbar.
However, the complexion of the game changed completely when the Black Cats were reduced to 10 men in the 18th minute.
Amad Diallo went down in Swansea’s 18-yard box wanting a penalty, and Sunderland’s players were clearly incensed when referee Keith Stroud waved play on, enabling their opponents to break.
O’Nien took matters into his own hands, leaping into a reckless challenge on Cooper close to the centre-circle. The incident sparked a bout of pushing and shoving involving players from both sides, which was halted by Stroud brandishing a straight red card to O’Nien.
Unsurprisingly, Swansea became the dominant side once they were handed a numerical advantage, although it took them a while to seriously threaten the Sunderland goal.
Anthony Patterson turned a well-struck shot from Piroe around the post, and when the Sunderland goalkeeper should have been beaten a minute before the interval, Piroe was found wanting.
The Swansea striker had plenty of the goal to aim at when Ryan Manning’s cross was touched into his path, but he only succeeded in shooting straight at Danny Batth, who had been brought on as a defensive replacement in the wake of O’Nien’s dismissal.
It was a bad miss, but Piroe made amends when he opened the scoring five minutes after the interval.
Manning steered Matt Grimes’ cross back across the face of goal, and an unmarked Piroe was left with the simple task of tapping home from a couple of yards to claim his 10th goal of the season.
A goal and a man down, it would have been easy for Sunderland to have folded, but to their credit, they continued battling away and equalised in the 65th minute.
Jack Clarke beat his man to swing over a cross from the left, and after Batth nodded down, Neil steered home a slick first-time volley.
Parity was restored, but it only lasted five minutes before Swansea reclaimed the lead in a fortuitous fashion.
Batth cut out Manning’s left-wing cross as he slid inside his own six-yard box, but his clearance struck Cullen, with the ball rebounding back into the net.
Swansea added a third goal with 12 minutes remaining, Cooper swooping on the loose ball after Piroe’s shot had been blocked by Dan Ballard and drilling a fine finish past Patterson.
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