Sunderland AFC 5-0 Sheffield Wednesday
Sunderland will head into 2022 as the Sky Bet League One leaders following a crushing 5-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday at the Stadium of Light.
Lee Johnson’s side led on Wearside with just 11 minutes on the clock, as Ross Stewart’s 13th league goal of the campaign sent the Roker End into raptures.
The striker became League One’s leading scorer shortly after with another fine finish, and Callum Doyle’s first senior goal provided the cherry atop a scintillating first-half display.
A point-blank save denied Stewart five minutes after the restart, but his third arrived before the hour mark as he headed home a pinpoint delivery from Bailey Wright to seal a perfect hat-trick.
Benji Kimpioka’s entry led to chants of ‘if Benji scores we’re on the pitch’ – and the forward duly obliged just four minutes after his introduction, slamming a low finish into the net.
A very happy New Year indeed.
Carl Winchester failed to recover from a knock and Johnson named an unchanged side at Stadium of Light, as Aiden O’Brien once again missed out due to illness.
Wednesday crafted the first opening with a well-worked move flowing to Lee Gregory, but the striker’s clipped finish nestled into the grasp of Thorben Hoffmann.
With 12 minutes on the clock, the Lads’ top scorer became the league’s leading marksman.
A sublime through ball from Leon Dajaku broke the offside trap and Stewart burst through, steadying himself before dispatching a cool finish beyond Bailey Peacock-Farrell and into the corner.
The Owls looked to strike back immediately, but Hoffman remained in command and Stewart’s pace continued to give the visiting backline a torrid time.
Eight minutes before the break the Black Cats made it 2-0, as Pritchard fed Stewart and the Scot arrowed another fine finish into the net.
A third arrived on 40 minutes and it was a moment to savour for Doyle, who converted at the back post to score his first professional goal.
A stunning save from Peacock-Farrell prevented a fourth soon after, as a flying save from the on-loan Burnley ‘keeper diverted Embleton’s rocket into the Roker End.
The Black Cats refused to sit back following the restart and Stewart was thwarted on 50 minutes, with an instinctive save denying the striker at point-blank range.
After providing a pinpoint ball for Stewart, Lynden Gooch menaced once more and was sent tumbling after beating his man, but the referee waved play on.
The respite didn’t last long and it was 4-0 before the hour mark, with Stewart heading a simple header into the net after connecting with a sensational Wright delivery.
Stewart was denied a fifth by Peacock-Farrell with 25 minutes on the clock, but Kimpioka wrapped things up with a cracking finish in the final stages.
The result ensured the Lads end 2021 in pole position.
Sunderland AFC: Hoffmann, Wright, Flanagan, Doyle, Evans, Neil (Kimpioka 71), Pritchard (Cirkin 63), Embleton, Gooch, Dajaku (Alves 80), Stewart.
Subs not used: Burge, Younger, Hume, Harris.
Sheffield Wednesday: Peacock-Farrell, Palmer, Dunkley (Brennan 29), Johnson, Wing, Hunt, Bannan, Dele-Bashiru (Corbeanu 59), Mendez-Laing, Gregory (Adeniran 76), Paterson.
Subs not used: Shodipo, Berahino, Wildsmith, Sow.