TWO sent off as Sunderland fall to first defeat after Marcus Maddison inspired Peterborough thrashing
There had been little in the first half, with a superb Marcus Maddison free-kick separating the two sides who had played out a cagey affair.
In the second half Sunderland floundered, the home side scoring twice more as two red cards saw Jack Ross’ side finish the contest with nine.
The wealth of attacking talent between the two sides had raised expectations of an open game and it started in that fashion, Sunderland bright and forcing an early opening as Aiden McGeady gathered the loose ball from a corner on the edge of the area, curling his effort over the bar.
Peterborough had scored four away at MK Dons last weekend and served early notice of their threat when McGeady gave the ball away near his own byline. The ball was fired into the box where Mo Eisa attempted a first-time shot, firing over the bar. Moments later he went closer, curling a dangerous effort from outside the box that Jon McLaughlin had to do well to get down and push clear. Ivan Toney then headed a Dan Butler cross wide in a flurry of early openings for the home side.
That, though, belied what would ultimately be a cagey first half in which little side carved out any significant opportunities.
Sunderland had more of the ball but their final pass was just lacking in quality, while centre-back Mark Beevers did exceptionally well to make a fine covering tackle as Grant Leadbitter released Charlie Wyke with a long pass through the middle.
Wyke was then left frustrated when he rose to meet a Leadbitter free-kick, but neither Lynden Gooch nor Marc McNulty had gambled and the home defence were able to clear.
Neither goalkeeper had been tested further when Peterborough took the lead, Sunderland incensed when the referee blew for a Leadbitter foul on Eisa.
Marcus Maddison, whose influence on the game up until that point had been minimal, fired an effort from distance that left McLaughlin rooted and unable to save.
The Black Cats were knocked by the goal, though they did force a good save from Christy Pym minutes before the interval when McNulty gathered a Wyke knock-down, beating his marker and shooting at goal
Sunderland started the second half well and created plenty of early pressure, but were left with a mountain to climb when the home side ruthlessly picked them off in a fine counter-attacking move.
Leadbitter pulled a free-kick back for Power, whose low drive was blocked. The away side regained possession and created an opening as O’Nien crossed from the byline. Posh cleared, and swept down the left, Eisa showing excellent composure to build the move. They played their ball over to the right where Josh Knight had made an overlapping run, firing into the far corner.
Sunderland responded well and twice went close, first as Leadbitter played a clever ball into the feet of McNulty, who just saw his effort turned wide. The following corner broke to the far side, where Gooch crossed for Willis. His header was turned goalward by Wyke but his effort was just over the bar.
By now the game was swinging open and Peterborough should have made it three when Maddison cut onto his right foot, crossing for Toney who somehow nodded wide from just yards out.
They made the visitors pay moments later when they broke downfield, a Maddison effort deflected past McLaughlin.
Having briefly threatened, the away side were now losing their shape and discipline, reduced to nine in just five minutes.
O’Nien was the first to see red when he appeared to swing an arm as he tussled with Ivan Toney on the touchline. He was followed by Wyke, who was shown a second yellow for a late challenge just yards away from O’Nien had been penalised.
Damage limitation was the priority for Sunderland now and they were fortunate not to concede a fourth when Toney again headed wide from a promising position.
Sunderland XI: McLaughlin; O’Nien, Ozturk, Willis, McLaughlin; Gooch (Grigg, 62), Leadbitter, Power, McGeady (Dobson, 77); McNulty (Flanagan, 74), Wyke
Subs: Burge, McGeouch, Baldwin, Embleton
Peterborough United XI: Pym; Mason (Thompson, 83), Beevers, Kent, Butler; Reed, Knight (Burrows, 80), Boyd, Maddison; Eisa (Dembele, 61), Toney
Subs: O’Malley, Bennett, Tasdemir, Ward
Bookings: McLaughlin, 30 Toney, 50 Power, 83 Leadbitter, 88
Red card: O’Nien, 72 Wyke, 77