With Lee Johnson having seen his Sunderland side lose their place at the top of the League One table following their 2-2 draw on Saturday, with Tuesday night’s opponents in the Carabao Cup Wigan Athletic overtaking the Black Cats in the league standing, the 40-year-old manager would have undoubtedly been hoping for a dominant performance against the Mackems’ promotion rivals in the cup clash.
And his players did not disappoint, with goals from Nathan Broadhead and Luke O’Nien sealing a commanding 2-0 win at the DW Stadium, with the Black Cats boasting 63% possession, completing 176 more passes than the home side and winning 11 more duels than the Latics.
Furthermore, perhaps predictably when considering the result, a number of Johnson’s team highly impressed on an individual level in the clash, with Broadhead, Alex Pritchard, Corry Evans and Bailey Wright all turning in brilliant performances.
However, it was undoubtedly Sunderland’s second goalscorer in the game, O’Nien, who ran the show on the night.
Indeed, aside from scoring the goal that all but sealed the win for Sunderland, O’Nien’s performance in the middle of the park was one of the highest calibre, with the central midfielder impressing both going forwards and at the back.
In terms of his attacking influence, the £135k-rated man scored one goal, took a total of two shots at goal, managed 76 touches of the ball – the fourth most of any player in the fixture – and completed four long balls.
Regarding his defending, the 26-year-old won 80% of his 10 duels, made three clearances, two tackles, one interception and won two fouls over the course of his 90 minutes on the pitch.
These returns saw O’Nien earn a SofaScore match rating of 7.7, the highest score received by any player to feature in the game.
As such, should the player Jack Ross dubbed a “revelation” maintain this level of performance for the remainder of the season, he will undoubtedly go on to play a huge role in Sunderland’s push for promotion out of League One, something that, following their highly impressive display against the current third-tier table-toppers, looks increasingly likely.