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Match report: Sunderland 2 Udinese 0
SUNDERLAND eased to victory in their final pre-season friendly with a 2-0 win over Udinese.
Santiago Vergini and Connor Wickham scored second-half goals to complete the Black Cats' preparations for the new campaign.
In Udinese, Sunderland faced their stiffest test of pre-season thus far, with the Serie A side comfortable in possession and looking capable of penetrating the Black Cats backline.
With a week to go until the Premier League season commences in earnest, a test is exactly what Gus Poyet was looking for, but both sides cancelled each other out in the first 45 minutes.
Charis Mavrias, employed in an attacking right-wing role for Sunderland, fired a dipping volley wide after a decent lofted through-ball from Santiago Vergini with three minutes on the clock.
The Greek, in a triumvirate alongside Connor Wickham and Steven Fletcher, injected a bit of pace into proceedings but Udinese grew into the game and started to see a lot more of the ball as the half progressed.
Loureiro Allan drew a smart save out of Costel Pantilimon – once again preferred to Vito Mannone – before Luis Muriel, Udinese’s most impressive player, saw his shot take the slightest of touches off the Sunderland goalkeeper.
Wickham made Udinese goalkeeper Zeljko Brkic work five minutes after the restart with a powerful free-kick that Brkic pushed on to his post, but there was nothing that the stopper could have done moments later when Vergini piled in to convert Jordi Gomez’s corner.
It was two in two minutes when Vergini was felled inside the area by Igor Bubnjic, Wickham making no mistake from the penalty area.
Jozy Altidore made his first appearance for Sunderland since the World Cup, but it was Udinese who went on the attack with Bruno Fernandes drawing a save out of Mannone, who was a half-time substitution for Pantilimon.
A raft of substitutions from both sides ended the game as a contest as the hosts – in unfamiliar surroundings of the Northern League ground in Bishop Auckland – eased home.
Sunderland: Pantilimon (Mannone 46), Vergini (Roberge 61), Brown, O'Shea, van Aanholt (Robson 40); Mavrias (Watmore 74), Cattermole (Bridcutt 85), Rodwell (Agnew 46), Gomez (N’Diaye 71); Wickham (Altidore 61), Fletcher (Graham 71).
Udinese: Brkik, Danilo, Allan, Badu (Bruno 74), Bubnjic (Pasquale 74), Guilherme, Muriel, Widmer, Gabriel Silva (Belmonte 75), Heurtaux, Thereau (Lopez 69). Subs not used: Scuffet, Zapata, Jankto, Zielinski, Meret.