Match report: Lads into last four

Sunderland 2-0 Manchester City

Sunderland are one win away from a Wembley showdown following a comfortable victory over Manchester City Under-21s at the Stadium of Light.

Jack Ross’ side controlled proceedings throughout and they led midway through the opening period, as Duncan Watmore drilled home from inside the box.

A second almost arrived when Bryan Oviedo’s curling free-kick clattered the crossbar, but there was no stopping substitute Lynden Gooch, who dispatched a second with 65 minutes on the clock.

The Lads would have added to the scoreline had it not been for the goalkeeping heroics of Daniel Grimshaw, but despite an array of fine stops late on, the damage was done and Sunderland progressed.

Benji Kimpioka led the line at a frosty Stadium of Light, as Adam Matthews and Oviedo featured in defence and Lee Cattermole captained the Lads.

Watmore stretched his legs early on and did well to wrestle his marker off the ball, but Kimpioka was unable to apply the finishing touch after being picked out by the pacey wideman.

After impressing at right-back, Luke O’Nien was handed an opportunity to flex his stuff in central midfield, and he made a bright start to the game, winning numerous aerial battles while also threating at the back post.

Man City impressed despite their youth and they enjoyed plenty of time on the ball, but Sunderland struck first blood with 22 minutes played.

Kimpioka and Dylan McGeouch combined but Watmore delivered the blow, rifling home past a motionless goalkeeper after the ball dropped invitingly in the box.

Fresh off the back of his first senior goal since April 2016, Watmore went close to grabbing his second of the evening soon after, as a fizzing effort stung the palms of Grimshaw.

City remained on the ropes and the woodwork came to their rescue on the half-hour mark, with the crossbar denying Oviedo’s 25-yard free-kick.   

The second period yielded more of the same and the first clear-cut chance following the interval came on 57 minutes, as O’Nien’s thunderbolt whistled past the post.

Sunderland were relentless in their search for a second, which you always felt would kill off the tie, and just a few minutes after coming off the bench, Gooch’s curling finish gave the visitors a mountain to climb.

O’Nien almost grabbed a third soon after, but a stunning stop saw Grimshaw drop to his left to stop the midfielder’s effort, and he managed to claw the ball off the line just as it looked to squirm over the line.

Kimpioka enjoyed a one-on-one battle with the City stopper in the closing stages, with the Swede’s curler saved moments before Grimshaw did well to hold the 19-year-old’s low drive.

And O’Nien was also frustrated by the 21-year-old, who was quick off the mark to deny the summer signing on two occasions.

Grimshaw’s heroics would prove to be in vain, though, as Sunderland marched into the last four.

Sunderland: Ruiter, Matthews, Ozturk, Baldwin, Oviedo, O’Nien, Cattermole (Robson 75), McGeouch, Maguire, Watmore (Gooch 60), Kimpioka (Connelly 89).
Subs not used:
Stryjek, Flanagan, James, Neil.

Manchester City: Grimshaw, Frimpong, Rosler, Harwood-Bellis, Ogbeta (Diounkou 46), Doyle (Bernabe 75), Pozo, Dele-Bashiru, Garre, Touazi (Knight 78), Braaf.
Subs not used:
Wilson, Ogunby, Moulden, McDonald.

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