This is how it played out as Sunderland lose to Middlesbrough following major injury blow
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Sunderland’s preparations for the game had been rocked when talismanic striker Ross Stewart was withdrawn in the warm up, the Scot appearing to pick up a muscle injury while practicing his shooting.
Middlesbrough dominated proceedings in the first half and took a deserved lead through Riley McGree, and though the Black Cats improved through the second half they were frustrated by a well organised opposition and struggled to find the quality they needed in the final third.
Stewart’s absence had an unsurprisingly significant impact right from the off, with Middlesbrough dominating territory and possession. Rodrigo Muniz headed over an early cross from Ryan Giles as Sunderland struggled to get hold of possession.
Having said that, the Black Cats had a massive chance to open the scoring when Patrick Roberts robbed Matt Clarke, Ellis Simms teeing Alex Pritchard up as he broke into the box unmarked. Pritchard had time to set himself but fired his first-time effort wide of the far post.
Middlesbrough quickly regained their composure and got back on top, Muniz slicing wide after Jones found him with a low cross into the box. The hosts produced another good chance when Howson whipped in a dangerous cross to the front post, and though Patterson did well to claw that away McGree should have done better as he met the follow-up. When a similar opening presented itself two minutes later, he made no mistake. It was good play from Giles as he whipped in a cross from the left, but from Sunderland’s perspective it was far too easy fro McGree as he stole in between O’Nien and Batth. From there it was a simple finish past Patterson.
The hosts continued to create the better chances leading into the break, McGree breaking into the box again before firing too close to Patterson’s right.
Sunderland did create moments of promise, but lacked the composure in possession to make it count. It was hard to argue that the hosts deserved their half-time lead.
The visitors stepped up the pitch considerably in the second half, getting into some decent areas but just lacking the final ball to make it count. Middlesbrough had also seen their rhythm disrupted somewhat by an injury to McNair but Patterson had to do well to deny Muniz when the striker got free in the box to met a cross from Giles.
The visitors had improved considerably but it was the hosts who continued to forge the better chances, substitute Watmore breaking into the box but firing straight at Patterson shortly after his introduction.
Wilder’s side were increasingly happy to sit in and frustrate Sunderland as the game wound into the final stages, and they were struggling to forge clear openings.
Substitute Embleton did force Roberts to palm an inswinging free kick clear of his top corner, and a chance looked to have opened up for fellow substitute Amad when Evans spring him clear with a fine through ball. Amad tried a backheel to find the onrushing Simms, but it was just beyond the Everton loanee and the chance passed.
Simms did have a half chance midway through seven minutes stoppage time, but fired over as Middlesbrough held on comfortably.