Sunderland won third place in the Peace Cup after coming from behind to beat the Dutch side FC Groningen 3-2 in South Korea today.
Salut! Sunderland therefore takes back whatever it said about fitness being what mattered, not results, in these games. We won, so on this occasion the result matters a great deal. We weren’t there and can offer no great insight into the victory but since we mentioned the defeat at the hands of Seongnam, it would be churlish not to add the cheerier postscript.
Never mind that Groningen were hardly high flyers in the Netherlands last season. “The second half of the season was a complete mess,” says Wikipedia and they’re not talking about us. “Groningen only managed to win two games (Excelsior 0-1 and PSV 3-0) and they finished on a disappointing 14th place.”
It was still a good win and one claimed in dramatic style. Ryan Noble, having made the equaliser and generally impressed since coming on as a late sub, clinched victory with a cracking strike, following a cracking little run, from the edge of the box in the dying seconds.
Leading through an early Wickham goal, SAFC had gone 2-1 down by the interval but scored in the 88th minute (Campbell) and with that 90th minute Noble winner to give Martin O’Neill a welcome first victory in the pre-season build-up.
Could it be that we already have an answer to our strike power problems whatever the remaining weeks of the transfer window produce? Ryan Noble = SuperKev circa 2012? Pete Sixsmith has seen him often enough to be able to offer us, when the rigours of retirement/non-retirement permit, a rational assessment.
SAFC.com‘s text commentary reported: “The travelling fans are delighted. Nice scenes at the full time whistle as the players throw their shirts into the crowd.”
MON had said beforehand: “However (ie despite the disappointment of losing the first game), in terms of all of the things you want out a pre-season it’s been excellent, it’s everything I’d hoped it would be.
“I realise that trying to win the game is very important but at the same time there’s a few of the younger players that you want to blood and I think any minutes that they get on the pitch they should enjoy.”
He’ll be pleased with how they responded to today’s challenge. And I am pleased to direct readers to our confrères at Roker Report, where you’ll find a decent match report, line-ups and ratings.
But this is how the club site recorded the five goals …
*19 – GOAL! Sunderland 1 FC Groningen 0 – Connor Wickham slots the ball home to put Sunderland in front after Bramble got on the end of a free kick to head the ball into his path.
** 37 – GOAL! Sunderland 1 FC Groningen 1 – A Jun Suk bicycle kick inside the 18 yard box beats keeper Wilson. The Korean forward capitalised on the Sunderland changeover as he fired the ball right through the gap Brown had left before Egan had made his way onto the pitch
42 – GOAL! Sunderland 1 FC Groningen 2 – Schet puts the Dutch side in front just before half time. He broke away from Richardson down the right wing to send the ball past Wilson and into the bottom corner.
**** 88 – GOAL! Sunderland 2 FC Groningen 2 – SAFC snatch an equaliser with two minutes to go. Unselfish play from Noble as he zipped across the box for Campbell to stab home from close-range.
***** 90 – GOAL! Sunderland 3 FC Groningen 2 – Unbelievable! Sunderland are in front with a 90th minute goal. Noble is rewarded for his endeavour with a stunning goal as he left the keeper with no chance smashing home a pass from Meyler.