Sheffield Wednesday boss Darren Moore delivered this verdict on narrow first-leg Sunderland defeat

Sheffield Wednesday boss Darren Moore praised Sunderland’s performance and said it ‘was always going to be a tough’ game after his side fell to a narrow defeat in the first leg at the Stadium of Light.
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Ross Stewart’s goal just before half time on Friday night proved to be the difference between the two teams in front of a record EFL play-off attendance.

There had been little between the two sides before the Scot’s strike, though the Black Cats had dominated territory and possession. Alex Neil’s side then threatened to double their advantage in a superb spell after the interval, but the Owls were able to ride the pressure and finished relatively strongly.

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"We knew it was going to be a tough game,” Moore said afterwards.

Sunderland celebrate Ross Stewart's goalSunderland celebrate Ross Stewart's goal
Sunderland celebrate Ross Stewart's goal

"I've played loads of times here as a player and come here as a manager and when the crowd gets up like that it's a difficult place.

"The disappointing thing for me about the game was we didn't use the ball as well as we could but give Sunderland credit, they put a lot of energy into the game, worked, pressed us and used the ball well.

"It's not easy here with a full house under the lights.

"The positives were that the boys were dogged and put their bodies on the line.

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"The goal was avoidable and we accept that but after about 60, 65 minutes I just felt the energy on the pitch change and we finished the game a lot stronger without looking really that threatening. We could have used it better.

"The game lived up to my expectations, we knew we had to stay dogged.

"I said to them at half-time we don't concede again, make sure you do your jobs and stay in the game because we'll get our moments,” Moore added.

"That's how it panned out.

"I don't think we started too conservative. Right from the word go we knew it was going to be that way. They came at us and that's play-off football for you.

"Honestly, it was exactly how I thought it would go.

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"We knew we had to keep the crowd quiet and just before half-time your speech is a certain and the next minute it's about not letting the disappointment seep into the second half.

"You go in at 0-0 and the onus is on them but at half-time we had 15 minutes to settle them down and regroup.

"For the first 20 minutes of the second half they came at us again but after 60-odd minutes I felt the pendulum swing."

Moore praised his defender Sam Hutchinson, who was caught on the ball by Stewart for the goal, for showing character through the second half.

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"He’s disappointed, but he was one of them that I said ‘come on, it has gone now’. When we score, we score as a team and when we concede, we concede as a team,” Moore said.

“We knew it was avoidable, but I thought he put in a wonderful, spirited performance in the second half. He did his job in the second half.

“Even in the second half, he was trying to get himself forward and get a goal.

“It didn't come and we have got it all to do on Monday.”