Stunning first half display sees Sunderland coast to win over Scunthorpe United

Max Power celebrates scoring Sunderland's opening goal
Max Power celebrates scoring Sunderland's opening goal
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Sunderland's opening two games showed they could compete in League One; this performance showed that they can thrive.

In a breathless first half, they carved Scunthorpe open with delightful regularity, scoring three and threatening to add even more.

On the ball they were vibrant, inventive and clinical.

Off it they hunted in packs, forcing errors from the visitors at every turn.

It has been many years since they dominated on home turf like this. A second half injury suffered by Adam Matthews was the only disappointment in what felt like a statement performance.

Sunderland served notice of their intent in the opening moments of the game, Chris Maguire pushed right up in support of Josh Maja.

The forward drew a good save from Rory Watson in the first five minutes, the Scunthorpe keeper pushing an effort wide of the post.

Marshaled by the impressive Lee Cattermole at the base of midfield, the Black Cats were making all the running and Lynden Gooch was typically dangerous on the right.

Scunthorpe did manage to disrupt their rhythm on one or two occasions, and they felt they should have had a penalty when Jack Baldwin cleared a dangerous ball, knocking George Thomas to the ground.

That appeal was waved away and the opening goal was the cue for the floodgates to open.

Bryan Oviedo showed his individual quality on the left, easily turning inside Jordan Clarke. He stood a cross up on his weaker foot and Max Power, breaking late from midfield, headed home.

It was two within minutes, Cattermole showing his composure when the ball fell kindly for him on the edge of the box.

Resisting the urge to shoot, he teed up Oviedo, who moved it inside to Maja.

With his back to goal, he spun and caught Watson off guard, firing into the bottom corner. It was the kind of goal that is fast becoming his trademark.

Sunderland continued to open the visitors up at will, Jack Baldwin going close when his shot from a loose ball was deflected wide.

Just before half time they added another, a clever one-two with George Honeyman allowing Gooch to get to the byline. He cut the ball back across goal and Maguire was there to finish with a clever backheel. It was an audacious goal that summed up both the quality and ambition the team had played with in a superb half.

After surviving a pair of dangerous set pieces at the start of the second half, the Black Cats were back on the front foot again, with Power and Oviedo shooting wide from range.

Matthews' injury saw Sunderland move to a three-man defence, the tempo dropping considerably with two tough away games on the horizon.

Scunthorpe rarely threatened, going close only when Lee Novak headed a deep free-kick over the bar.

The Black Cats ought to have added a fourth ten minutes from time, Maja somehow firing wide after Honeyman knocked down another tremendous Oviedo cross.

Glenn Loovens had to be alert to cut out a late Scunthorpe counter but it was otherwise a comfortable half to match a mightily impressive opening.

The win lifts Sunderland into the upper reaches of the table and if they continue to play like this, they will remain there for some time.

Sunderland XI: McLaughlin; Matthews (James, 59), Loovens, Baldwin, Oviedo; Cattermole, Power, Honeyman (O'Nien, 82); Maguire (Mumba, 70), Gooch, Maja

Unused subs: Ruiter, Ozturk, Robson, Embleton

Scunthorpe United XI: Watson, Clarke, Goode, Burgess, Butroid; Lund (Ojo, 65), Perch; Dales (Humphrys, 59), Thomas, Morris (Colclough, 78); Novak

Unused subs: Flatt, Horsfield, McArdle, Olomola

Attendance: 29,876 (1,343 away)

Bookings: Lund, 28 Power, 90