safc.com’s Oscar Chamberlain takes you through all the action as it happened at the Almondvale Stadium, as Sunderland continued their pre-season with a 3-0 win over Livingston.
Wahbi Khazri was once again on target as 10 players got 60 minutes in the tank, with Simon Grayson’s side displaying plenty of positives in their third pre-season outing.
HOW DEEP IS YOUR LOVE?
Turns out, not very deep at all. Sunderland lined up with John O’Shea, Papy Djilobodji, Billy Jones and Brendan Galloway in defence, with Donald Love starting on the right wing, a previously unfamiliar role for the Manchester United academy graduate. Vito Mannone was rested as Mike started before Poland under-21 international Max Stryjek was given his first taste of pre-season action in the second period. Lynden Gooch once again led the line as Jack Rodwell continued to operate in the number 10 role, with under-23 livewires Josh Maja and Joel Asoro on the bench.
THAT MAN AGAIN
Sunderland’s outstanding performer so far this pre-season has been Wahbi Khazri. The wing wizard starred in the 2-2 draw at Hibernian last weekend and he was conjuring up more magic during the early stages at the Almondvale Stadium. With 20 minutes played, he shattered the deadlock. Lynden Gooch was quickest to react as sloppy passing from the home side gifted the USA international a sight at goal, and he forced a good save with Neil Alexander getting a hand to the forward’s driven effort. But the Livingston stopper was powerless to prevent the follow-up, with Khazri taking once touch to set himself before dispatching a pinpoint finish into the bottom corner as Sunderland took the lead.
BACKED INTO A CORNER
Sunderland notched NINE corners before the hour mark and they almost doubled their advantage with the last before wholesale changes were made. A beautifully-weighted set piece from Khazri floated towards Darron Gibson 25 yards from goal, and on the volley the midfielder sent a terrific effort through a crowded box and narrowly wide. Seconds later, Grayson made 10 changes as a number of familiar faces – Kone, Cattermole and Honeyman to name a few – entered the fray alongside the speedy strike duo of Joel Asoro and Josh Maja. And from this point on, Sunderland dominated…
FOX IN THE BOX
So much has been made of Maja’s impact this pre-season that his under-23 strike partner, Asoro, has relatively flown under the radar. But on 76 minutes that all changed. After returning to pre-season at a later date following the under-21 European Championships, the Swedish forward announced his first appearance of the season with a goal. Livingston switched ‘keepers just moments before as Gary Maley entered the fray – and, in truth, it was a pretty miserable introduction. The stopper fumbled a tame free-kick from Lens and Asoro gobbled up the chance, reacting quickest in a crowded penalty area to fire the ball in from close range and hand Sunderland a 2-0 lead.
ICING ON THE CAKE
With time ticking down and everyone going through the motions, Lens took centre stage with a sensational 25-yard drive that left the ‘keeper rooted to the spot and the net bursting. The cherry on top another positive outing for the Black Cats ahead of the new season…
Livingston: Alexander (Maley 75), Lithgow, Byrne (Trialist 75), Pittman, Mullen (Todorov 63), Jacobs, Mackin (Carrick 63), Knox (Mullin 46), De Vita (Peters 75), Halkett, Gallagher (Hamilton 75).
Sunderland: Mika, Jones (Lens 46), Galloway, Djilobodji, O’Shea, Love, Gibson, Rodwell, Ndong, Khazri, Gooch.
Sunderland [after 60 mins]: Stryjek, Ledger, Beadling, Kone, Matthews, Cattermole, Embleton, Honeyman, Lens, Asoro, Maja.
Referee: Steven Kirkland.