Sunderland trail at half-time

Goal: Connor Wickham
Goal: Connor Wickham
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Half-time: Groningen 2 Sunderland 1

Peace Cup, Suwon Stadium.

Graeme Anderson reports from South Korea

THE opening few minutes saw Groningen go closest to goal with a couple of long-range efforts but Fraizer Campbell had a half-chance in the fourth minute, close in, only to lash wide from a narrow angle.

Cuellar conceded the first corner of the game in the seventh minute and Sunderland lived dangerously from the ball in from the left before clearing their lines.

Sunderland continued under pressure but the debutant had hardly any more involvement, being replaced by Titus Bramble with barely a dozen minutes on the clock.

Despite that, Ben Wilson didn’t have a save to make until the quarter-hour, and when he did, it was a good one – diving athletically to pluck Leandro Bacuna’s shot away from the top left-hand corner of goal.

Sunderland took the lead in the 18th minute from a free-kick earned when David Meyler was crudely bought down.

Craig Gardner lofted in a cross which wasn’t dealt with, Titus Bramble six yards out tried unsuccessfully to squeeze the ball past opposition defenders but the ball rolled out to Connor Wickham who tapped it home from close range.

The striker glanced up for offside but the flag stayed down and Sunderland had their first goal of the Peace Cup and the lead.

Groningen pushed for an equaliser but lacked any precision in the couple of efforts they carved out before the half-hour.

Sunderland were starting to look comfortable but midfielder Maikel Kieftenbeld posted a warning in the 35th minute with a spectacular long range shot which Wilson palmed over.

And in the 37th minute the Dutch equalised through skipper and lone striker Hyun Jun Suk who acrobatically flicked a ball up with his back to goal and produced an overhead kick which beat Wilson diving to his left.

Half-a-dozen minutes later and Wilson was beaten again as winger Mitchell Schet cut in from the right-wing, fending off pressure from Kieran Richardson to steer a low shot across the Sunderland keeper and into the bottom right-hand corner of his goal.

Sunderland: (4-5-1) Wilson, Gardner, Brown (sub Egan 35), Cuellar (sub Bramble 12), Richardson, Lynch, Cattermole, Meyler, Colback, Campbell, Wickham. Subs: Pickford, Turner, Laing, Knott, Reed, Deacon, Noble.

Groningen: (4-2-3-1) Luciano, Ivens, Kappelhof, Dijk, Kieftenbeld, Kwakman, Bacuna, de Leeuw, Suk, Schet, Magnasco. Subs: Bizot, Bakker, Burnet, Sparv, Alilore, Moorsel, Hiarej, Keurntjes, Texeira, Kostic, Zeefuik.