Middlesbrough 1-0 Sunderland: Riley McGree goal downs Black Cats

Middlesbrough 1-0 Sunderland: Riley McGree goal downs Tony Mowbray’s Black Cats in his second game in charge… as Chris Wilder’s side edge of out of the Championship relegation zone

  • Middlesbrough beat play-off chasing Sunderland in tight game at Riverside 
  • Riley McGree nets second goal of the season for Middlesbrough in 25th minute
  • Loss damages Sunderland’s early season push for Championship play-off spots
  • Boro out of the relegation places with win over Sunderland and up to 17th place 

Chris Wilder got the lift he so desperately craved last night as Middlesbrough edged out Tony Mowbray’s Sunderland at a frenzied Riverside.

Wilder had seen his men win just one of their opening seven Championship games and pressure had started to mount on the former Sheffield United boss.

But Australia midfielder Riley McGree scored a delightful goal in the 25th minute and from there Boro did not look back, securing a win which lifted them out of the relegation zone.

Riley McGree poked home in the 25th minute to give Middlesbrough a first-half lead 

McGree celebrates scoring against Sunderland, his second goal in eight Championship games

 It was a first defeat in his second game in charge for new Sunderland boss Mowbray, a legendary former centre half and captain who spilled blood during 350 appearances for Middlesbrough.

The man who grew up on a Redcar council estate was serenaded with chants from the home supporters of ‘Tony Mowbray, he’s one of our own’ but he was in no mood to respond.

Not after a defeat which kept Sunderland out of the play-off zone and gave Wilder much-needed breathing space.

Perhaps it needed a North East derby under the lights to finally stir Boro into life this season. Having looked anything but promotion aspirants during their dreadful start, Wilder and his players seemed invigorated by the raucous atmosphere.

Tony Mowbray was taking charge of his second Sunderland game since his appointment

It was the first league meeting between the rivals since 2018 and the noise from a near-capacity crowd said much for what was at stake. The presence on the touchline of Mowbray, whose reign had got off to the perfect start with a 3-0 home win over Rotherham last Wednesday, merely added spice to proceedings.

Isaiah Jones provided a constant threat down Boro’s right flank and inside the second minute his cross was headed over by Rodrigo Muniz. Moments later, Jones escaped down the right wing again and this time he cut the ball back to Fulham loanee Muniz, whose shot was blocked by Danny Batth. The Sunderland defender’s clearance fell kindly to Matt Crooks, who blazed over the bar.

Alex Pritchard quickly emerged as Sunderland’s key threat but he fired over from Ellis Simms’s intelligent pass. Yet Boro continued to probe and Muniz fired wide from another Jones delivery.

The win boosted Chris Wilder’s Middlesbrough side out of the relegation zone and up to 17th

Sunderland offered a lingering threat up front, despite losing striker Ross Stewart to injury in the warm-up, but the home team looked the more likely to score.

Midway through the first half, a free-kick by Jonny Howson was parried by Anthony Patterson and, when Ryan Giles sent the ball back into the box, McGree’s left-foot strike bounced over the bar.

But McGree was soon celebrating as he seized on an exquisite pass from Giles, finding space between Batth and Luke O’Nien before drilling a low shot through Patterson’s legs.

Sunderland saw claims for a penalty waved away on the stroke of half-time when Howson appeared to fell Patrick Roberts.

After the break, the hosts had chances to make the game safe but Patterson produced a brilliant save to keep out Muniz’s close-range header.

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