Rotherham United 5-1 Sunderland AFC
10-man Sunderland were beaten by Rotherham United at the New York Stadium on Saturday.
The home side excelled in the opening stages and they punished the Black Cats early on, as Michael Smith headed home his sixth goal in seven games.
The Lads burst into life midway through the opening period and struck back through an outstanding solo finish from Ross Stewart, who toyed with the Millers defence before restoring parity.
After combining for the opener, Smith returned the favour and teed up his strike partner Freddie Ladapo before the break, and his strike ensured Rotherham led at the halfway point.
A double switch and a change of formation preceded the start of the second period, but the home side refused to back down and Michael Ihiekwe’s simple header made it 3-1 on 53 minutes.
Aiden McGeady was sent off soon after and Smith added a fourth on 73 minutes, with Ladapo completing the scoring late on.
Lee Johnson made two changes from the Black Cats’ previous league outing, with Elliot Embleton returning from suspension to start at the New York Stadium.
Alex Pritchard missed out due to a troublesome neck injury, but Leon Dajaku was fit to face the Millers as Aiden O’Brien dropped to the bench.
Unbeaten in 10, including seven wins, Paul Wearne’s side started well and Dan Barlaser volleyed over the top before Callum Doyle blocked Chiedozie Ogbene’s effort.
The Millers continued to press forward and their efforts were rewarded after 10 minutes, as Smith’s deft header looped into the top corner.
Sunderland improved in the stages that followed and they grew into the game, but it was a moment of real magic that hauled them level.
Interplay from Dan Neil and Aiden McGeady led to Stewart and the frontman took centre stage, weaving his way into the box before arrowing a low finish beyond Josh Vickers.
A frantic period ensued as the officials let the game flow from end-to-end, but the home side’s influence grew stronger as the opening act concluded and Lapado made it 2-1 on 41 minutes.
Stewart’s low 25-yard drive clattered the inside of the post before the interval, but the drama wasn’t over there and Ladapo headed wide with the goal at his mercy in added time.
Johnson made two changes ahead of the second period and the Lads switched to a 3-5-2 formation, as Lynden Gooch and Bailey Wright replaced Embleton and Luke O’Nien.
Rotherham picked up where they left off, though, and Thorben Hoffmann denied Ladapo from ten yards before Barlaser rattled the ball past the German stopper and wide of the post.
A sensational tackle from Doyle followed as Ladapo threatened once more, with the Manchester City loanee stretching to poke the ball clear after the striker turned towards goal.
Ihiekwe edged Wearne’s men further in front six minutes after the restart and a red card made a tall order a towering one shortly after, as McGeady was dismissed.
Smith notched his seventh goal in as many games on 73 minutes, stooping at the back post to head beyond Hoffmann for the second time.
Rotherham made three changes ahead of the final stages, but it was Ladapo that wrapped up the scoring to seal a comprehensive win for the Millers.
Rotherham United: Vickers, Harding, Barlaser, Wiles, Ladapo, Ogbene (Kayode 74), Ferguson (Miller 74), Rathbone, Ihiekwe, Edmonds-Green, Smith (Sadlier 74).
Subs not used: Johansson, Wood, Bola, Odoffin.
Sunderland AFC: Hoffmann, Flanagan, Doyle, Cirkin, Winchester, Neil, O’Nien (Wright 45), Embleton (Gooch 45), McGeady, Dajaku (Evans 59), Stewart.
Subs not used: Burge, Alves, O’Brien, Wearne.