Second half horror show leaves weak Sunderland at rock bottom

This may not be rock bottom but it certainly feels like it.

Saturday, 13th January 2018, 8:41 pm
Updated Saturday, 13th January 2018, 9:00 pm
Ruiter appeals for a foul after Cardiff's first goal

Injuries have left Chris Coleman with few cards to play but for the second week in a row it was glaring and alarming just how little presence they had on the pitch.

It was a young side and physically not an imposing one, in stark contrast to Cardiff who were comfortable and punished their opponents with two set piece goals and a pair of swift counters.

Sunderland had defended diligently in the first half but created little, struggling to hold onto the ball in forward areas for any period of time.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The game was brutally put to bed in ten second half minutes as Cardiff scored twice and Didier Ndong saw red.

That decision seemed harsh but the deficiencies of Coleman's side are clear to see. They were utterly inept in the second period and in the end the four goal cushion did not flatter Cardiff, the Black Cats failing to produce one shot of substance.

If Coleman cannot secure at least two good quality and physically robust forwards before the end of the window then Sunderland will surely not beat the drop.

That the Black Cats struggled to create chances in the opening half was perhaps not a surprise given the scale of the injury crisis that still very much has a hold on the club.

Cardiff had the better of the game without opening the visitors up, Jake Clarke-Salter impressing in the opening stages of his debut.

They did create some promising openings on the counter, with Tyias Browning and George Honeyman both firing over from range on their weaker left foot in the first quarter of the game.

From there they struggled to keep the ball, Cardiff's imposing side taking relative control.

Joe Ralls forced a fine save from Robbin Ruiter when he struck a volley from the edge of the area, before Junior Hoilett twice went close with free-kicks from the edge of the area.

The first dropped just wide of the post before Ruiter got a hand to the second.

Coleman replaced Marc Wilson with Lee Cattermole at the start of the second half but within five minutes Sunderland looked to be out of the contest.

Robbin Ruiter couldn't gather a Joe Bennett corner, leaving Callum Paterson to turn home and put the Bluebirds ahead just 90 seconds into the half. Didier Ndong then saw red for a late challenge on Junior Hoilett to leave the Black Cats with a mountain to climb.

Less than five minutes later, it was two. Cardiff broke from a Sunderland free-kick, Kenneth Zohore racing clear of Clarke-Salter. He cut the ball back across goal where Ralls was waiting to fire past Ruiter.

From there it was a stroll for Cardiff, Sunderland only threatening when a free-kick from the wide area looped onto the bar.

Warnock made his substitutions to protect his key players with a late comeback never on the cards.

The third goal was another soft one to concede, a free kick breaking to the far post where Paterson was free to fire home his second.

Anthony Pilkington, out of the picture at Cardiff for much of the season, rubbed salt into the wounds with an easy finish at the back post in stoppage time.