Stuani gives Middlesbrough northeast spoils
Uruguayan striker Cristhian Stuani’s fine brace earned Middlesbrough a 2-1 win at Sunderland on Sunday in the northeast rivals’ first Premier League encounter since January 2009.
Stuani put Aitor Karanka’s Boro ahead with a glorious 25-yard strike in the 13th minute at the Stadium of Light before finishing off a neat team move on the cusp of half-time.
Sunderland replied through Patrick van Aanholt in the 71st minute, but Boro, promoted from the Championship in May, prevailed to record their first top-flight win over the Black Cats in over 10 years.
Sunderland have not won a league game in August in six years and having lost 2-1 at Manchester City on the season’s opening day, they are still awaiting a first win under new manager David Moyes.
Boro manager Karanka made three changes to the team that had drawn 1-1 with Stoke City last weekend, bringing goalkeeper Brad Guzan, midfielder Adam Forshaw and striker Stuani into his starting XI.
Stuani needed little time to repay his manager’s faith, gathering the ball in the inside-right channel and arrowing a magnificent shot into the top-left corner.
Sunderland then lost John O’Shea to injury, with Steven Pienaar coming on for his debut following his move from Everton on Friday, and in the 45th minute things got even worse for the home side.
Forshaw picked out Alvaro Negredo with a delightful reverse pass and the former Manchester City striker cut inside Jack Rodwell before unselfishly teeing up Stuani to stroke in his second goal.
Booed off at half-time, Sunderland gave a much better account of themselves in the second half.
Guzan produced a smart one-handed save to deny Van Aanholt and Ben Gibson blocked brilliantly from Jermain Defoe.
Van Aanholt halved the deficit by stabbing home the rebound after Guzan could not hold a shot from Duncan Watmore.
But his side could not prevent Boro registering a first away win in the English top flight since November 2008, which left them in sixth place in the fledgling standings.