Match report: Lads held in tour opener

Sunderland 0-0 Benfica B

Sunderland banked more valuable minutes on Thursday evening, as their pre-season tour of Portugal, sponsored by UK Asbestos Specialists Limited, started with a 0-0 draw against Benfica B.

Rodrigo Conceicao and Charlie Wyke both forced saves early on, but Lynden Gooch’s crossbar-bound effort was the closest either side went during the goalless first-half.

Changes were aplenty after the restart and two of the Lads’ new arrivals combined on 85 minutes, but once again the crossbar came to Benfica’s rescue, as Duncan Watmore was denied after a sublime Elliot Embleton through ball carved out the chance.

Sunderland continued to push forward late on, but it ended goalless at the Estadio Municipal de Albufeira.

Jordan Willis made his first appearance for the club, as Jack Ross named a strong side against the Portuguese outfit.

Sporting their new blue adidas away kit, the Lads commanded the ball during the opening exchanges, pressing high and unsettling Benfica, but Lee Burge had to be alert on five minutes to deny Conceicao one-on-one.

Wyke forced a decent save 12 minutes later as chances started to fall for the Black Cats, with Will Grigg and Alim Ozturk heading off target in the stages that followed.

Conceicao continued to carry the biggest threat at the other end, but Benfica were fortunate to enter the break on level terms, having only the woodwork to thank after Lynden Gooch’s long-range effort clipped the crossbar.

Ross made four changes at the break, Willis, Grigg, Conor McLaughlin and Grant Leadbitter taking a seat and being replaced by Glenn Loovens, Luke O’Nien, Ruben Sammut and Benji Kimpioka.

A moment of panic arrived before the 70-minute mark, as Garrido failed to adequately clear Chris Maguire’s testing free-kick before a whistle spared his blushes.

Further changes followed in the form of Tom Flanagan, Denver Hume, Dylan McGeouch, Embleton and Watmore, and the latter two combined late on.

An inch-perfect pass from Embleton sliced open the Benfica backline and fed Watmore, but the forward’s effort thudded against the woodwork before Sammut’s follow-up was saved.

Sunderland first-half: Burge, Baldwin, Willis (Loovens 45), Ozturk (Flanagan 68), C McLaughlin (O’Nien 45), Gooch (Hume 68), Leadbitter (Sammut 45), Robson (McGeouch 68), Maguire (Embleton 68), Grigg (Kimpioka 45), Wyke (Watmore 68).
Subs not used:
J McLaughlin, Diamond, Patterson.


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