Doyle keeps Sheff Utd on course at Sunderland
Last updated on .From the section Championship
Manchester City loan pair James McAtee and Tommy Doyle scored the goals that set Sheffield United back on the Championship promotion trail with victory at Sunderland.
The three points allowed the Blades to take advantage of Middlesbrough dropping points in a draw with Stoke City 24 hours earlier and open up a six-point lead in the race for the second automatic promotion spot.
Sunderland began the night hoping to build on their fine win at Norwich City at the weekend and boost themselves back into the play-off reckoning, but they ended up slumping to a fourth defeat in their past five league games.
Victory for the visitors put a halt to their slide in fortunes after they had lost four of their previous six to give Boro hope of catching them.
The Blades were on the front foot from the first whistle, pinning Sunderland back, with keeper Anthony Patterson producing a fine save to deny Daniel Jebbison, making only his fourth start of the season as manager Paul Heckingbottom made four changes from the side that lost to Luton Town on Saturday.
The Blades' dominance counted for nothing, however, as Paris St-Germain loanee Michut found himself in space, superbly created by Joe Gelhardt's distracting run, to collect Abdoullah Ba's pass and fire into the far corner on the half-hour mark.
The visitors were level in added time in the first half as wing-back George Baldock carried the ball down the right and slipped a pass inside to McAtee, one of the players drafted in by Heckingbottom. He took the pass with a silken touch, feinted, and then stroked the ball into the far corner for a top-class finish.
McAtee turned provider for Iliman Ndiaye early in the second half, only for Patterson to make a great block with his leg, but the Blades were not to be denied.
Doyle whipped in a free-kick from wide on the left and with Sander Berge's attempt to get a touch distracting Patterson, the ball bounced into the far corner. The Sunderland defence protested, as Berge had clearly been in an offside position, but the goal stood.
Sunderland finally rallied, with Wes Foderingham forced into a terrific one-handed save from Jack Clarke, and Patrick Roberts cutting in from the right flank to bounce a shot off the far post.
The response fizzled out as Heckingbottom's side managed the game to a conclusion as Sunderland's dismal home form - just six wins in 18 - continued.