Despite falling behind just before the half-time whistle, a fine defensive performance and two goals after interval helped the Black Cats to turn things around. It marks their first win since mid-September and ends a four-game winless run.
Whilst Elliot Embleton may earn the plaudits for his equalising goal getting them back on track, it was Dennis Cirkin who was perhaps the standout performer for his efforts at both ends of the pitch.
He showed his attacking traits throughout this game, getting the assist for Embleton’s goal and later scoring the winner. His exploits earned him the best SofaScore rating of anyone on the pitch with 8.5 and shows just how much better than the player he set up for the equaliser, who managed a 7.2 rating.
Kevin Phillips forewarned the league of his qualities when speaking to Football Insider, saying: “Cirkin has come in and settled so well. He is young, has a great left foot and bombs forward. You can see that he is not afraid to get crosses in and have a shot as well. Defensively, which is key for me, he’s very good as well.”
This excellence was reflected in his two clearances, two interceptions and one tackle. It marks the perfect all-round display from the defender, who managed to inspire Sunderland’s victory from centre-back
This result has seen the Black Cats surge to within two points of the play-off spots and will leave Mowbray delighted that his side has returned to winning form.
It was a game in which they dominated, boasting 60% of the ball, and after falling behind, they were lucky to have a player like Cirkin to dig them out of that first-half hole.