Swansea's cool design unpicked by O'Neill
Sunderland 2 Swansea 0
Brendan Rodgers was standing in a corridor, dealing with more platitudes for his free-passing team, and smiling. "I think it is great for the public here at Sunderland to see us," the Swansea manager said. "They have been wondering what this team everyone is talking about is all about, and now they have seen. We were wonderful. Our objective at the start of this season was to stay in the league but I believe we can finish in the top 10."
In the tunnel, Michael Vorm was warming to the same theme, talking total football. "People in Holland would love the way we play," said the Swansea goalkeeper. "Obviously I am known in Holland and people do watch the Premier League.
"Now they follow much more and all my fans who are texting me and talk to me tell me how much they are enjoying the way we play. When they come over, they enjoy the games and make comparisons with our national team. If we continue to play this way we will be fine, and I think we are winning friends because not many teams in the Premier League play this way and it suits me the best." It was easy to forget that Swansea had lost. Even Martin O'Neill, the Sunderland manager, was a little apologetic. "I hope I don't sound like we've lost 5-0."
It was a strange old afternoon. There was 68 per cent possession for the visitors in the opening half and more of the same after the interval. It was hard not to admire the belief in doing it the right way for a club small on budget and height but large on ideals and style.
Except it was Sunderland who ended the day in the top half of the Premier League. O'Neill has picked a plan for each game he has been in charge. Again he found the winning formula.
"We watched Swansea on the tapes and they keep the ball very well," said the defender Wes Brown. "We pressed at times and won the ball back, but that was basically our plan. Once we got to our own half we all got together and blocked it up and tried to counter attack. When we got the ball, it was time to break and we did that well, but we all had to go together, which we did."
For all that, it boiled down to two moments of brilliance, one in each half, first from Stéphane Sessègnon, a brilliant curling shot into the top corner, and then from the substitute Craig Gardner, his 30-yard half volley beating Vorm five minutes from time. "When you pay that kind of money for Sessègnon and Gardner they will come up with moments of quality," said Rodgers. Those two cost £11m.
Sunderland: MIGNOLET 6/10; BARDSLEY 7; O'SHEA 6; BROWN 7; RICHARDSON 7; LARSSON 7; CATTERMOLE 7; VAUGHAN 6; McCLEAN 6; SESSEGNON 8; BENDTNER 3
Swansea: VORM 6; TAYLOR 7; WILLIAMS 7; CAULKER 6; RANGEL 6; SIGURDSSON 7; ALLEN 7; BRITTON 7; SINCLAIR 8; GRAHAM 6; DYER 8
Scorers: Sunderland Sessegnon 14, Gardner 85.
Substitutes: Sunderland Wickham 6 (Bendtner, 12), Gardner (Vaughan, 79), Elmohamady (Larsson, 89). Swansea McEachran 5 (Sigurdsson, 66), Routledge (Britton, 78). Booked: Sunderland None. Swansea None.
Man of the match Dyer. Match rating 6/10.
Possession: Sunderland 37% Swansea 63%.
Attempts on target: Sunderland 2 Swansea 4.
Referee C Foy (Merseyside).
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