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Southampton 4-2 Sunderland: Saints boost play-off push
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PA Sport staff
Press Association
Southampton’s Adam Armstrong, right, celebrates scoring against Sunderland (Victoria Jones/PA)
Southampton’s Adam Armstrong, right, celebrates scoring against Sunderland (Victoria Jones/PA)

Newcastle-born striker Adam Armstrong helped extend Sunderland’s losing run to six matches as Southampton’s 4-2 victory breathed new life into their Sky Bet Championship promotion push.

Armstrong, who played 21 times for the Magpies after coming through their youth set-up, converted a first-half penalty after Stuart Armstrong had already poked Saints ahead.

Romaine Mundle and Jobe Bellingham pulled it back to 2-2 but Joe Rothwell’s quick-fire brace off the bench – both with heavy Adam Armstrong influence – maintained Mike Dodds zero per cent record since taking over from Michael Beale.

Sunderland didn’t have a shot on target in the first half but could have led inside 90 seconds but Mason Burstow curled just wide.

Burstow would also shake a post from the most acute of angles but otherwise the hosts dominated and should have gone in better than their 2-0 lead.

David Brooks set the tone in the fourth minute when he was given plenty of time to get a shot away but could only fire wide.

The opener came five minutes later as Brooks clipped a ball to the back post and Bellingham headed back across his own goal under pressure to offer Jan Bednarek a free header. That was saved but only as far as Stuart Armstrong, who swept in from a yard.

It was the Scotland international’s first league goal since December and fourth of the season.

He almost had a second in the 19th minute when a clear shot was deflected behind before Che Adams couldn’t divert a low cross in and Brooks struck a free-kick straight at goalkeeper Anthony Patterson.

Saints’ second came in the 37th minute after Ryan Manning had his legs taken from under him by Leo Hjelde for a stonewall penalty.

Adam Armstrong converted, albeit with a slip which drew complaints of a double contact from the Black Cats, before celebrating in the corner where the away fans were situated.

But the momentum completely changed in the second half, specifically on a pair of double substitutions in the 58th minute.

Russell Martin’s withdrawal of Brooks and Will Smallbone didn’t work but Dodds’ introduction of Adil Aouchiche and Nazariy Rusyn was a masterstroke.

Rusyn had already blasted into the side-netting before Mundle pulled one back in the 62nd minute from 20 yards with a strike off a post.

Bellingham completed the comeback with a wonder strike after shifting on to his right foot from the edge of the area to beat a diving Gavin Bazunu.

But Saints rallied and another double swap reverted their fortunes as Rothwell turned things back around and James Bree shored things up.

Rothwell was in the right place at the right time twice in three minutes within seven minutes of being subbed on in the 73rd minute.

His first came after Adam Armstrong’s blocked cross landed perfectly for him to follow in and lash home before Adam Armstrong’s low delivery was cleared off the line and into the path of the Bournemouth loanee to pounce again.


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