MIKAEL MANDRON’S spot-kick continued Sunderland’s 100 per cent record during pre-season, as the Black Cats made a winning start to their pre-season tour of Portugal.
Mandron’s winner with 13 minutes to go secured victory for a youthful Sunderland side against Spanish Second Division side Recreativo de Huelva, in Albufeira.
Both sides had hit the woodwork prior to that point, while Liam Agnew cleared off the line for Sunderland.
Gus Poyet started the game with a side composed entirely of the Under-21 squad after the youngsters flew out to the Algarve on Monday.
There were six members of the first-team squad on the bench, but the bulk of Poyet’s senior players took a watching brief from the stands ahead of tomorrow’s clash against CD Nacional.
Recreativo gave Sunderland a scare in the 12th minute when Jorge swept in an inswinging free-kick from the left which had keeper Joel Dixon scrambling, before Mikael Mandron managed to block a couple of yards out.
Sunderland gradually got on top though and went desperately close to getting their noses in front in the 23rd minute.
Martin Smith’s right-footed free-kick from 25 yards crashed against the bar before the ball came out to David Ferguson on the edge of the area.
The left-back hit an angled left-footed drive across goal which whistled inches wide of the far post.
A goal-line clearance from Agnew spared Sunderland in the 33rd minute after Nunez scuffed a shot from just inside the area, following a Recreativo corner.
The ball richocheted to Victor Diaz, who attempted a cheeky back-heel from 10 yards which beat Dixon, but not Agnew on the line.
HALF-TIME Recreativo 0 Sunderland 0
The woodwork denied Recreativo in the 57th minute when Montoro delivered a raking crossfield ball from the left and Menosse escaped from the Sunderland defence.
From eight yards out, he crashed a header against the crossbar.
Sunderland had struggled to create chances throughout the second half, but with 13 minutes to go, they were awarded a penalty.
Charis Mavrias produced a surging run to get in behind the Recreativo defence and he was clipped by Fran Avila.
Mandron took the spot-kick and smashed it down the middle.
Recreativo should have equalised five minutes later when Jorge’s free-kick from the left was only partially cleared by Dixon.
The ball came out to Aitor, just inside the area, with the goal at his mercy, but he blasted it over the bar.
El-Hadji Ba tried his luck from 30 yards with a minute to go, but his swerving shot which was relatively straightforward for keeper Ruben Alvez, who gathered at the second attempt.
FULL-TIME Recreativo 0 Sunderland 1
RECREATIVO: Alvez, Victor Diaz, Menosse, Juanan, Fernando Vega, Dimas, Montoro, Nunez, Adan, Cabrera, Zambrano. Booked: Jorge (88)
SUNDERLAND: Dixon, Ferguson, Beadling, McNamee (Roberge 46), Cartwright, Agnew (Bridcutt 46), Smith (N’Diaye 46), Honeyman (Watmore 74, Lawson 85)), Lawson (Ba 46), Watmore (Mavrias 46), Mandron. Sub not used: Mannone. Booked: Beadling (81)