Sunderland shine to see off Millwall
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PA Sport Staff
Press Association
Sunderland’s Alex Pritchard (left) celebrates with Amad Diallo (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Sunderland’s Alex Pritchard (left) celebrates with Amad Diallo (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Sunderland climbed into the top 10 of the Sky Bet Championship as they made a winning return after the World Cup shutdown.

Second-half goals from Amad Diallo, Alex Pritchard and Ellis Simms enabled the Black Cats to claim a 3-0 victory over Millwall, who succumbed tamely on Wearside.

Sunderland effectively settled things with a two-goal burst in the space of five minutes at the start of the second half, improving markedly after a slow start to claim what was only a second home win since August.

Millwall went into the game knowing a win would lift them into fourth position, and the visitors were the dominant force during a fractious opening half-hour.

Referee Tim Robinson was the busiest figure on the pitch as the game was punctuated by a succession of fouls, but the Lions managed to fashion the opening opportunity in the 15th minute as former Sunderland midfielder George Honeyman drilled in a shot that was blocked by Corry Evans.

Jake Cooper fired a hooked effort straight at Anthony Patterson, and Sunderland were indebted to Danny Batth for an importance clearance midway through the first half. Tom Bradshaw looped a header towards goal, but Batth managed to clear from just in front of his own goal line.

Sunderland had not really threatened at all at that stage, but the hosts gradually grew into the game and became more of an influence as half-time approached.

Diallo delayed too long at the back post when Jack Clarke’s deflected cross fell into his path, meaning he was unable to get a shot away, but Sunderland finally tested Millwall goalkeeper George Long seven minutes before the interval, with Simms firing in a low drive that was easily saved.

The visitors should have scored in first-half stoppage time, but were unable to take advantage of a gift that came their way. Patterson’s hurried clearance was scuffed straight to Zian Flemming on the edge of the area, but the Millwall midfielder stroked a poor effort wide of the target.

It was a crucial miss as Sunderland took a firm grip on the game with two goals in the space of five minutes in the early stages of the second half.

Diallo scored the first, tapping home at the back post after Simms’ attempted backheel flick from Pritchard’s cross resulted in the ball fortuitously deflecting into his path. The Manchester United loanee was in fine form prior to the start of the World Cup shutdown, with his latest effort making it four goals in his last six games.

Sunderland doubled their lead five minutes after their opener, with Pritchard receiving the ball from Lynden Gooch and wriggling into space in the 18-yard box before drilling in a shot that evaded Long despite being aimed pretty much straight at him. The Millwall goalkeeper was unsighted, but will almost certainly feel he should have done better.

Long was at fault again as Sunderland claimed a third goal in stoppage time, racing off his line in an unsuccessful attempt to reach a long ball over the top and enabling Simms to prod the ball past him before rolling home.

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ChampionshipMillwallSunderland
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