Sunderland 1-0 Leeds United: Jobe Bellingham’s winner ends in-form Leeds’ run

Jobe Bellingham’s goal was his fourth of the season for Sunderland

Teenage midfielder Jobe Bellingham was again Sunderland’s hero as they ended Leeds United’s seven-game unbeaten run to make it two Championship wins from two for interim head coach Mike Dodds.

Leeds’ fearsome form under Daniel Farke, with three wins in a row during their in-form sequence, made them daunting opponents, but the Wearsiders executed a game plan to neutralise the attacking threat that brought eight goals in those victories.

It took until 12 minutes to go for the deadlock to be broken as Bellingham bravely put his head in as Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier looked to smother, and guided the ball into the net.

Before that it was both goalkeepers who had stood out with some hugely important saves, notably Sunderland goalkeeper Anthony Patterson tipping over Crysencio Summerville’s sizzling free-kick while Leeds’ Meslier pawed away a seemingly goal-bound Jenson Seelt header with a full-stretch palm away.

Trai Hume’s off-the-line clearance from Joel Piroe late on typified Sunderland’s doggedness, not allowing Leeds the chance to collect a point they craved.

The scenes at full-time showed just how highly regarded Dodds is, having been part of the Sunderland set-up under former boss Tony Mowbray, and he had his fingertips on preparations before and since Mowbray’s exit.

What Dodds’ tactical set-up did was deny space, time and freedom to Leeds’ attacking quartet of Piroe, Georginio Rutter and notably wide players Daniel James and Summerville, who have been so effective in recent games.

Just as they did against West Bromwich Albion at the weekend, Sunderland got things right in terms of the formation and the tweaks made during the game too.

Niall Huggins and Hume were suffocatingly tight on the flanks, while the relentless press of Dan Neil, Bellingham and Abdoullah Ba through the middle continually broke up play and got amongst the anchoring midfield base of Glen Kamara and Ethan Ampadu.

And, for all the talk of the need for a striker, Bellingham was on hand to make the difference up top, as substitutes Patrick Roberts and Pierre Ekwah added energy and drive off the bench.

For all it was a defensive masterclass at times, it was still an open and entertaining game with it, as both sides racked up excellent chances.

Summerville’s free-kick had Patterson sprawling, Djed Spence raised Sunderland anxieties with a curling effort just wide and Bellingham dived to block Piroe’s fierce effort before Hume turned the ball off the line late on.

Sunderland’s Jack Clarke was a thorn in his old club’s side, tempting Archie Gray into a foul that earned the full-back a booking, and provided a menacing outlet for the hosts.

Seelt’s header brought the best from Meslier, while Bellingham should have done better when he headed wide after a Sunderland corner, and the hosts might had a spot-kick for a foul on Luke O’Nien had referee Dean Whitestone seen it differently.

Leeds have shown in their form that they will be a promotion contender despite missing out on a fourth straight win for the first time since 2020-21’s Premier League campaign, and with results like this, Sunderland could well be joining them in that pack.

Sunderland interim boss Mike Dodds told BBC Radio Newcastle:

“Same as Saturday, I’m delighted for the players and the staff, the work ethic behind the scenes that goes into the preparation and I’m buzzing for the fans.

“It’s two really tough games and to take six points – if you’d said that at the start of the week I’d have snapped your hands off.

“I thought we executed the game plan to a tee. I was going through stats, and before Trai [Hume] cleared the ball off the line at the end their expected goals was 0.4 and for us to limit a Premier League-quality team to that number of chances is remarkable really.

“They’ve got to believe in it and that’s really important. Tonight they really believed in how we set them up. We’ve played two teams in really good form and with top-flight budgets, and over the two games we’ve conceded five shots on goal.”

Leeds head coach Daniel Farke told BBC Radio Leeds:

“First of all congratulations to Sunderland for a great defensive effort. In general I’m struggling to criticise my lads too much, it was clear we had a difficult away game, we dominated this game in many periods, with high possession, but we didn’t find the cutting edge.

“In recent weeks we have created so many chances and scored so many goals, but today I felt when it came to that situation to play the final pass and be there in the decisive moment, we weren’t tidy, we weren’t sharp enough, there was the wrong decision.

“They changed their formation to a 5-3-2. They parked the bus and hit us with counter-attacks and set-pieces. It was just one of those days where we didn’t find that tidiness or sharpness.”

Line-ups

Sunderland

Formation 3-4-3

  • 1Patterson
  • 23SeeltSubstituted forEkwahat 71′minutes
  • 5Ballard
  • 13O’NienBooked at 40mins
  • 32Hume
  • 7Bellingham
  • 24Neil
  • 2Huggins
  • 17BaSubstituted forRobertsat 59′minutes
  • 21PritchardSubstituted forDackat 90′minutes
  • 20Clarke

Substitutes

  • 10Roberts
  • 11Burstow
  • 12Mayenda
  • 15Rusyn
  • 22Aouchiche
  • 25Triantis
  • 30Bishop
  • 39Ekwah
  • 46Dack

Leeds

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Meslier
  • 22GrayBooked at 28mins
  • 14Rodon
  • 21Struijk
  • 39SpenceSubstituted forJosephat 82′minutes
  • 4AmpaduBooked at 64mins
  • 8KamaraSubstituted forBamfordat 81′minutes
  • 20JamesBooked at 70minsSubstituted forAnthonyat 75′minutes
  • 7Piroe
  • 10Summerville
  • 24RutterSubstituted forGnontoat 75′minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Ayling
  • 6Cooper
  • 9Bamford
  • 12Anthony
  • 28Darlow
  • 29Gnonto
  • 30Gelhardt
  • 44Gruev
  • 49Joseph

Referee:
Dean Whitestone

Attendance:
40,531

Live Text

Reference

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