CD Nacional 1 Sunderland 0

by Andrew Lisgo

First defeat of pre-season for Black Cats.

Sunderland conceded a late goal in the Algarve as they continued to build their fitness in pre-season, suffering a 1-0 defeat to Portuguese Premeira Liga side CD Nacional.

A second game in two days for Gus Poyet’s men saw the Black Cats create a number of chances in front of goal, and they were unfortunate on the balance of play, with the decider scored by substitute Lucas a minute from time.

New boy Patrick van Aanholt was handed his Sunderland debut whilst summer recruits Costel Pantilimon, Billy Jones and Jordi Gomez all started the game.

It was a largely quiet outing for the Sunderland keeper, whilst Gomez impressed in the middle of the park, creating chances for his team-mates whilst coming close himself in the first half.

Jones, meanwhile, was also busy, coming close to a debut goal in the first period before being substituted at the break.

Sunderland started brightly, setting up in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Connor Wickham on the left wing. It was Wickham who had the first attempt on goal after Jones crossed deep, but the striker's header at the back post was collected by Nacional goalkeeper Eduardo Gottardi.

In the middle of the park, Gomez was full of energy and he tested the keeper early on with a long-range effort.

The Black Cats continued to push for the opener, with Jones unlucky not to notch his first goal for the club. Adam Johnson's pace saw him beat two defenders, before cutting the ball back to Jones on the edge of the six-yard box.

The defender struck the ball first time but keeper Gottardi was quick to get down, blocking the effort.

Gomez then threatened again just before the half-hour, clearing the crossbar with a right-footed shot from distance.

Wickham also had an opportunity just before the interval, going through on the end of Steven Fletcher's incisive pass, but the striker's low shot was tipped wide.

Wes Brown headed the resulting corner over the bar to round off a first half the Black Cats dominated, with Pantilimon having a quiet 45 minutes in the Sunderland goal.

Gus Poyet made one change at the break with Jones being replaced at right back by Charis Mavrias.

After a cagey first 45 minutes, Nacional began the second half on a brighter note with a couple of attempts on goal, driven off-target by Venezuelan frontman Mario Rondon and South Korean striker Suk, although Pantilimon wasn't troubled.

Poyet made his second change of the game on the hour mark, with Lee Cattermole being replaced by Liam Bridcutt after the midfielder looked to be struggling following a poor challenge from Nacional substitute Joao Aurelio.

Nacional finally had a strong effort on goal after 65 minutes. Substitute Camacho showed his pace down the left flank, cutting inside before Pantilimon palmed his shot behind for a corner.

The Black Cats continued to push at the other end, though, with Johnson showing some neat touches down the right wing whilst new signing van Aanholt fired a long-range effort wide.

With 15 minutes remaining, Poyet made a third change with Alfred N’Diaye coming off the bench for the second consecutive evening in place of Johnson.

With ten minutes remaining, the Black Cats continued to look for a winner and came close with a well-worked free kick. Mavrias was brought down on the right wing, with Gomez’s free-kick knocked away from the crowded six-yard box for Wickham to run on and hit, but his effort flew wide.

There was a fourth change for the Black Cats for the last ten minutes with El Hadji Ba coming on to replace Giaccherini, and the young Frenchman almost made an immediate impact with a through ball to Wickham before the shot was well blocked.

Debutant van Aanholt left the pitch to an ovation from the Black Cats fans when he was replaced by Valentin Roberge a minute later.

The game looked to be ending goalless, but with just a minute remaining, Lucas met a cross into the box to volley past Pantilimon and claim victory for the Portuguese side.

Sunderland will continue to build their fitness at the club’s Algarve training camp before facing Vitoria Setubal on Saturday evening in Albufeira.

Sunderland: Pantilimon, Jones (Mavrias, 46), van Aanholt (Roberge, 81), Brown, O’Shea (c), Cattermole (Bridcutt, 60), Gomez, Johnson (N'Diaye, 75), Giaccherini (Ba, 80), Wickham, Fletcher.

Sub not used: Mannone.

CD Nacional: Gottardi, Zainadine, Miguel Rodriguez, Ezzat, Marcal, Ayala, Suk, Gomaa, Rondon, Aly Ghazal, Matias.

Substitutes: Silva, Aurelio, Camacho, Boubacar, Lucas, Reginaldo, Willyan, Rui Correia, Sequeira.