Szmodics scores twice as Blackburn rout Sunderland

by 24britishtvApril 1, 2024, 6:20 p.m. 20
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The Championship's top goalscorer Sammie Szmodics bagged a first-half double at Sunderland to lead Blackburn to their first win under boss John Eustace.

Blackburn had gone 10 games without a victory since Eustace took over from Jon Dahl Tomasson, and had only managed four goals in their previous six games, but they found a disinterested Sunderland, who have won just one of their past nine, easy pickings at the Stadium of Light.

With the possibility of a play-off place a distant memory and safety virtually certain, the home side could not build on their Good Friday success at Cardiff, their first win under interim manager Mike Dodds.

Blackburn had not won an away match since November 25, a run of 10 games that had contributed to their slide towards the drop zone, but they broke that run in fine style and could easily have scored more.

Szmodics has defied his team's form with his goalscoring exploits and he showed his clinical finishing with a first-half double as Rovers took the game to the home side.

Rovers stood firm against early Sunderland pressure and in the 29th minute when Patrick Roberts, back after injury, lost the ball to a fierce Blackburn press, Dolan reversed a pass into the path of Republic of Ireland international Szmodics to sweep a left-footed shot past Anthony Patterson.

Seven minutes later Szmodics struck again with a fine goal as Dolan, who appeared to be trapped in the corner, dinked a pass to the excellent Joe Rankin-Costello, who brilliantly beat Luke O'Nien on the by-line and pulled the ball back for Szmodics to stroke in his 29th of the campaign, this time with his right foot.

Patterson saved from Rankin-Costello as Rovers threatened to cut loose, but two quick goals early in the second half killed any Sunderland hopes of a revival.

Hedges won the ball in his own half to spark a counter-attack and, after feeding Sam Gallagher, he continued his run as the striker nutmegged O'Nien and slipped a pass back to him for a simple finish.

Hedges capitalised on more slack defending, nicking the ball off Dan Neil as he slackly tried to play out of defence deep in his own territory, and gave the ball to Dolan, who jinked past a defender and scored off the post.

Hedges almost scored another when Patterson saved, but on 77 minutes Rigg pulled one back from a rebound after former Blackburn man Bradley Dack's header had been saved by Aynsley Pears.

Blackburn underlined their superiority with a fifth goal a few minutes later when Dillan Markanday's cross was miscued by Szmodics, as he sought his hat-trick goal, and fell for Moran to score.

"It's a bad result and probably an even worse performance. It's completely unacceptable, and I don't take it lightly when I say that - it's probably the best word I can find at the moment.

"Someone asked me if it's a game to forget but it's not a game to forget, it's one we have to use to demonstrate to this young group that one week you think you've cracked it and then you get a complete humbling 48 hours later.

"I'm really, really angry and trying to use my words correctly.

"We can use the turnaround of games as an excuse, but there's no excuse for that. We felt sorry for ourselves, there was a huge amount in the game that I didn't like, in and out of possession, and Blackburn were deserved winners.

"That's not acceptable for a club of this size and magnitude and as head coach I have to take responsibility for it."

"It was an outstanding performance. The result has been coming, as performances have been excellent over the course of the time I've been here.

"The togetherness was there. Sunderland started well and we were under a bit of pressure at the start, but the composure the boys showed continued the good work the squad have been doing.

"We've had a lot of draws but the most important thing is that we won playing our style of football and showing that level of commitment, that desire to defend the box.

"The front four were unplayable at times but the most important thing for me was what they did without the ball, for the team, which gave them the platform to play their football and go and get their goals.

"The back four were outstanding and the two midfield boys, with Joe Costello coming after missing the last few weeks - he was brilliant."

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