It was a very, very tough game to watch if you hold Sunderland Football Club close to your heart.
Apart from the jubilation of a 5th-minute mix-up between Naby Sarr and Dillon Phillips that handed the Black Cats an early lead, almost the entirety of the remaining minutes were the footballing equivalent of watching paint dry.
Jack Ross’ side simply couldn’t string any decent attacks together, relying on the physical presence of Charlie Wyke up top to conjure something up in the final third.
One thing that Ross probably didn’t expect to see was Krystian Bielik in the form of his life.
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The on-loan Arsenal centre-back was handed the Man of the Match award by Sky, and absolutely dominated Wyke and then Will Grigg after the Northern Irishman entered the fray.
Bielik won four aerial duels, made three interceptions and also made three clearances against the Black Cats; he was a man possessed.
What could Ross have done about the Pole’s heroics, you ask?
Well, it was all too easy for Bielik up against just Wyke as a lone striker. All the defender had to do was get a toe in first or head the ball away and Wyke was left helpless, with no one around to snap up the second ball.
Ross should’ve either played Grigg alongside Wyke from the off to give Bielik and co more to think about, or he should have at least seen how the game was turning out and brought the former Wigan man on earlier to partner the No.9, maybe even at half-time.
Grigg’s presence up top, specifically his expert movement in and around the box, would’ve caused all sorts of problems for the Charlton backline as they would have had more to think about than just winning aerial duels.
Instead, it was like taking candy from a baby for Bielik up against Wyke, who was trying way too hard to simply win a header at Wembley, let alone find the back of the net; anyone with a brain could’ve seen he needed some support up there.