Sunderland moved up to third in the League One table on Tuesday night as they thrashed Morecambe 5-0 at the Stadium of Light.
The Black Cats were at their clinical best as they swept their opponents aside with ease, scoring two of their goals in the opening 17 minutes of the match.
Lee Johnson’s men are now two points off first place, currently held by Wigan, and two points behind second-placed Wycombe, who have played a game more than Sunderland.
Nathan Broadhead scored two of the five goals and may take the plaudits for his fine performance, but another Black Cats star stole the show with a sublime showing on the night – Lynden Gooch.
The American winger was exceptional throughout the match and was pivotal to setting the tone with his direct running and ability on the ball.
He set up the first goal in the 13th minute with a sublime mazy run down the left wing, as he jinked past a number of challenges before firing the ball into Ross Stewart’s path for him to find the back of the net. Four minutes later, he produced a couple of stepovers to beat the full-back and clipped up a brilliant cross for Broadhead to find the corner of the goal.
On the ball, he was a threat all night down the flanks. As per SofaScore, he completed a whopping five dribbles, out of six attempts, and created three chances for his teammates – two of those resulting in the aforementioned assists for Broadhead and Stewart. He also completed three of his six long pass attempts and two crosses, whilst having 85 touches of the ball overall.
Gooch also competed out of possession. As per SofaScore, he won 60% of his ground duels (6/10) and made one clearance and one tackle. Given that Sunderland had 62% of the ball and he had little defensive work to do, this was a strong showing from him against the ball and shows that he can compete in physical battles to get the better of his opponents.
Therefore, the £5k-per-week wizard stole the show as he was able to win the majority of his battles off the ball and was a constant menace to the Morecambe defence on it. He was able to consistently cause problems for the opposition with his dribbling and chance creation, ultimately leading – directly – to two of the five goals and setting the tone for the night.