Hartlepool United 0 Sunderland 3: At least Pools won't come up against Defoe again
You don't come up against players like Defoe every day.
Not my words, but the very accurate assessment of Hartlepool United boss Craig Hignett.
Last night’s friendly turned into something of a Sam Allardyce circus as every media outlet from here to Timbuktu was inside Victoria Park to see the next England manager.
The press frenzy rather overshadowed a striking masterclass from Jermain Defoe – put a tenner on him to get back into the England squad by the way.
With two-goal Defoe so sublime, and his first half team-mates not far behind, Pools barely got a sniff.
But take the 33-year-old out of the equation and the evening was not a bad one for the boys in blue.
In the six minutes, 24 seconds before Defoe gave Sunderland the lead and for the entire second half, Pools looked decent enough.
There were certainly enough positives for Hignett moving forward.
All four new signings, Toto Nsiala, Nicky Deverdics, Lewis Alessandra and Padraig Amond all got 45 minutes-plus.
It was not easy to judge any of them with great accuracy give that they all featured in the first half when Sunderland were at their irresistable best.
Nsiala, who was playing National League football a few months back had to contend with a frontline worth millions, while the advanced trio had little ball.
Amond put in a spirited shift and given his reputation as a goalscorer it will be interesting to see him when the ball is coming into the box with a little more regularity.
The second half, once Allardyce had removed his First XI was much more evenly contested, with sub Nathan Thomas providing a threat for Pools, who forced eight corners.
All the subs got run-outs and there was encouragement for two players on trial.
Scott Harrison is, of course, a familiar figure, having spent last season and beyond at Pools before being released in May.
But he’s been given a chance to show what he can do and he did his hopes no harm at all in the final half-hour.
So too did ex-Fulham and Crawley defender, Liam Donnelly, who came on for the last 21 minutes. Both centre-halves are likely to feature again.
The way Pools got started last night was nice to watch with Nicky Featherstone, Josh Laurent and Michael Woods all having some early touhes in a midfield trio behind a frontline of Amond through the middle and Deverdics on the left and Alessandra on the right.
But once Sunderland went ahead, you could feel the class oozing from the Black Cats.
Defoe had some assistance for the first. Nsiala made a hash of what should have been a simple clearance, allowing the striker to nick the ball and advance forward.
The new signing gave chase but Defoe finished with aplomb past Carson.
Defoe almost set up a second moments later with a deft touch for Fabio Borini to hit the bar.
A second goal was inevitable and it duly arrived on the 15 minute mark, as Defoe beat Nsiala all ends up before rifling a right-foot shot which came back off the far post. But it fell to Wahbi Khazri whose shot was emphatic past the ex-Sunderland keeper.
Dynamo Defoe made it 3-0 inside five minutes with a sumptuous piece of skill.
Carson had kept out Borini’s attempt from Khazri’s left-wing cross but Billy Jones found Defoe on the edge of the box with the ex-Spurs ace curling a beauty past the home keeper into his top-right corner.
There could have been more goals for the near 4,000 away fans to cheer but Carson saved superbly from Jack Rodwell, whose corner was headed onto the bar by Lamine Kone.
That Pools had struggled to make any impact was no crime – the speed of thought and movement by the Cats was something else.
But while the gifted young sters sent on by Allardyce in the second half had their moments, they did not toy with the hosts like the first-half XI.
With Thomas having plenty of joy down the left and Lewis Hawkins prompting them from midfield, Pools, with Paynter playing through the middle, were much more competitive.
Away sub keeper Jordan Pickford was forced to beat away a Thomas cross and the former Sunderland youngster hit the post from one of the many corners he forced.
There was plenty of pressure and some neat football, with Paynter, Rhys Oates, Jake Orrell and Thomas involved in one particularly good move.
Oates forced Pickford to tip a header over the bar and while no goal came in front of the Pools fans in the Town End, there was enough to encourage the home support.
Pools: Carson (Bartlett 46), Richards (Magnay 46), Nsiala (Donnelly 69), Bates (Harrison 63), Carroll (Nearney 69), Featherstone (Green 69), Laurent (Hawkins 46), Woods (Thomas 46) Deverdics (Orrell 75), Alessandra (Oates 63), Amond (Paynter 46).
Sunderland first half: Mannone, Jones, Van Aanholt, Kabol, Kone, Cattermole, Lems, Rodwell, Defoe, Khazri, Borini.
Sunderland second half: Pickford, J Robson, Ledger, Beadling, T Robson, E Robson, Honeyman, Gooch, N’Zogbia, Greenwood, Watmore
Goals: Defoe 7, 20: Khazri 15
Referee: Tony Harrington (Hartlepool)
Att: 6,021 (away 3,859)