van Aanholt (33)
  • 04 January 2015
  • Stadium of Light (30,302)
  • FA Cup
Leeds United  
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We beat Leeds 1-0 which obviously means we are going to win the cup. Okay, maybe not, and certainly not if however many rounds remain of the cup for us feature similar second half performances.

The first half was great from a Sunderland point of view. We controlled proceedings in such a manner that the opening goal was inevitable. Like the goal, we oozed that bit of class you would expect from a Premier League side taking on a struggling Championship outfit.

All of that dominance was, without exception, courtesy of a very successful overload of the left wing. The returning Patrick van Aanholt acted more as a second left winger than a full back and he complimented Emanuele Giaccherini to great effect. The Italian was wasteful when he found himself with a goalscoring opportunity, the Dutchman wasn't to follow suit.

Van Aanholt was creator initially, latching onto Jordi Gomez's fine through ball before firing in a low cross for Steven Fletcher. Unfortunately, the striker was unable to keep the ball down but the pair would not be put off a little later in the half as their roles reversed.

Some good play from Sunderland ended up at the feet of Fletcher who teed up van Aanholt. To cap a fine move, the full back fittingly fired home a fine strike to give us a deserved lead.

The only real negative from the first half was an injury to Jack Rodwell, who was substituted for Sebastian Larsson. It remains unclear whether his was precautionary or something more serious.

The first half brought an end to our dominance however as Leeds, to their great credit, came out of the blocks much the quicker side forcing Costel Pantilimon into a few good saves.

That sluggishness would stick with us for what remained of the game. Partly due to general fatigue (busy festive period and all that) but what became increasingly evident as the half went on was how tired van Aanholt was. That isn't to the detriment of the player, after all he was thrown from the physio's room (after a lengthy lay off) onto the football field, but it raised questions over the remaining substitutions.

At half time, Ricky Alvarez was subbed for Connor Wickham, which was due to an illness - fair enough. However, with his final substitution, rather than removing the clearly fatigued van Aanholt, Gus took off the seemingly fit and fine Giaccherini for Adam Johnson. The change made no direct impact on the game and I think the third substitution should have been made to give the Dutch fullback a break. Perhaps this would have prevented the attacks which were so bountiful down his side and would have reduced the risk of a fresh injury to the player.

Regardless, both sides played out the half creating chances. Fletcher had an effort ruled out for offside, which I haven't had the benefit of a replay so will presume it was the correct decision - he also forced a good save shortly after.

Leeds were convinced a penalty should have been awarded instead of a freekick after a foul by Larsson. Again, I haven't had the benefit of a replay so won't pass judgement. They came closest of all at the death, as Liam Cooper's header had Pantilimon beat but bounced off the post. Sunderland survived to progress into the next round.

Not the most convincing cup win you will ever see and perhaps we did deserve to scrape through. However, we won't beat Liverpool or get far in this competition with a similarly sluggish performance.
Costel Pantilimon
Sebastian Coates
John O'Shea
Santiago Vergini
Patrick van Aanholt
Goal (33)
Liam Bridcutt
Card (71)
Jack Rodwell
Sebastian Larsson (37)
Jordi Gomez
Emanuele Giaccherini
Adam Johnson (74)
Ricky Alvarez
Connor Wickham (46)
Steven Fletcher

Max Stryjek
Tom Beadling
Tom Robson
Sebastian Larsson
Jack Rodwell (37)
Adam Johnson
Emanuele Giaccherini (74)
Will Buckley
Connor Wickham
Ricky Alvarez (46)
Marco Silvestri
Dario Del Fabro
Liam Cooper
Gaetano Berardi
Charlie Taylor
Casper Sloth
Billy Sharpe (62)
Rudolph Austin
Luke Murphy
Card (36)
Brian Montenegro
Souleymane Doukara (85)
Mirko Antenucci

Stuart Taylor
Ross Killock
Christopher Dawson
Kalvin Phillips
Zac Thompson
Billy Sharpe
 Adryan (62)
Souleymane Doukara
Brian Montenegro (85)
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