Hartlepool 0 Sunderland 3: Report on Sam Allardyce's final game in charge

Jermain Defoe
Jermain Defoe
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Sam Allardyce only witnessed 45 minutes of what was his final game as Sunderland boss.

The soon-to-be England manager spent the second half at Hartlepool United in the Victoria Park tunnel, chatting with his players and club staff at the end of what is a painfully brief stint in charge of the Black Cats.

But what he had witnessed in the first half of Sunderland's opening pre-season friendly - prior to 11 changes at the interval - will have given him hope that there are some foundations for his successor to to work with.

If it is David Moyes - which it looks almost certain to be - then the ex-Manchester United manager will have to make imminent inroads into the transfer market after the thinness of the Sunderland squad was highlighted by a completely youthful bench, other than trialist Charles N'Zogbia, who produced nothing of note.

Yet the first half display was the most convincing Sunderland have looked in a pre-season game for two or three years, arguably since the Asia Trophy win over Spurs in Hong Kong, back in 2013.

Sunderland zipped the ball around slickly with one and two touch passing, and constantly tormented the Pools defence. They scored three times before the break, and could have had several more, with the woodwork rattling on a further three occasions.

Allardyce was applauding in his seat after just seven minutes when Jermain Defoe used all his experience to hand a brutal lesson to Pools summer signing Toto Nsiala.

Defoe span the too-tight centre-half beautifully to Billy Jones' hopeful hoof forwards, found himself in behind the Pools defence and then calmly tucked it past ex-Sunderland stopper Trevor Carson.

Moments later, Defoe almost turned provider when he brought Jack Rodwell's ball over the top under control with an immaculate first touch.

Defoe threaded it through to the onrushing Fabio Borini, who turned and from a narrow angle chipped a shot across goal and onto the top of the crossbar.

A second for Sunderland arrived on the 15 minute mark, as the Black Cats again ripped the home defence to shreds down the channels.

Wahbi Khazri squared the ball to Defoe, who sold Nsiala with a superb dummy, before letting fly with a right-foot shot that crashed back off the far post.

The rebound rolled straight into the path of Khazri, 10 yards out, and he calmly stroked it into the unguarded net with Carson still grounded.

Defoe grabbed his second in the 20th minute with another marvellous goal after Borini had missed a golden chance to get his name on the scoresheet.

Borini's point-blank shot to Khazri's left-wing cross was saved by Carson, but it came back out to Jones on the right flank.

Jones squared it to Defoe on the edge of the box and he delicately lifted the ball over Carson into the net.

A full-length save from Carson on the stroke of half-time prevented Rodwell adding another after he was picked out by Jeremain Lens' pull-back, following a surging run down the left flank.

From the resulting corner, Lamine Kone headed against the top of the crossbar.

Sunderland changed their entire team at the interval, with the club's young guns given an opportunity, and Pools created their first meaningful effort within seven minutes of the restart when Nathan Thomas headed against the post from a corner.

Just after the hour, Duncan Watmore should have made it four, but sliced his shot at the end of a surging run after being picked out by George Honeyman's cute through-ball.

Hartlepool: Carson (Bartlett 46), Richards (Magnay 46), Nsiala (Nearney 70), Bates (Harrison 63), Carroll (Donnelly 70), Featherstone (Green 70), Laurent (Hawkins 46), Woods (Thomas 46), Deverdics (Orrell 76), Alessandra (Oates 63), Amond (Paynter 46).

Sunderland first half: Mannone, Jones, Kaboul, Kone, van Aanholt, Cattermole, Lens, Rodwell, Defoe, Borini, Khazri.

Sunderland second half: Pickford, J Robson, Ledger, Beadling, T Robson, E Robson, Honeyman, N'Zogbia, Gooch, Greenwood, Watmore.

Attendance: 6,021 (3,859 away)