Wayne Rooney continues to wait to win his first match as Birmingham manager after Sunderland defeated the Blues 3-1 at the Stadium of Light.
Rooney’s weakened side was able to claw their way back in the match after losing an early goal. Former Birmingham youth Jobe Bellingham scored the opener, and Koji Miyoshi equalised the score towards the second half.
Adil Aouchiche’s close-range goal 14 minutes before the end sealed the win for Sunderland.
Sunderland was dealt a blow before the match when Dennis Cirkin injured himself during warm-up. This forced the summer signing Nectarios triantis into the first team for the first time since his move to Australia in the summer.
The Black Cats were not affected by the last-minute change, though, and they continued to dominate the first half. NazariyRusyn smashed a shot into the wall in the 11th minute after making a neat turn inside the box.
Sunderland broke the deadlock six minutes later with a goal from a corner. Jack Clarke sent in a left-sided corner, Rusyn flicked the ball forward with his header and Bellingham scored from the outside of the box.
Bellingham, the younger brother to England’s Jude and Real Madrid player, joined Sunderland this summer. The 18-year old almost doubled the score midway through first half.
Bellingham was able to swivel smartly when Patrick Roberts corner passed deep into the area of penalty, but his shot was scuffed and it hit the same post as the one Rusyn had struck a few moments earlier.
Birmingham was struggling, but they fought back and began creating their own chances.
The home defense was broken on the 30 minute mark. Niall Huggins had to hack off his goal-line in order to stop Jay Stansfield bundling the ball home.
Pierre Ekwah surrendered possession and, after Stansfield crossed to the right, nobody tracked Miyoshi’s run, as he swept in a clinical finish on his first attempt.
The second half was a continuation of the first, with the match remaining very open.
A last-ditch tackle by Birmingham’s Emanuel Aiwu stopped Rusyn from getting his shot off, but Sunderland gained the advantage just before the one hour mark.
Roberts crossed from the left, and Trai Hume kept the ball alive on the post with a looped header above goalkeeper John Russell.
Triantis and Aiwu slid into the area on the goal line, but after several ricochets the ball appeared to be touched by Sanderson, before it ended up in the bottom of the net.
Sunderland secured the win with just 14 minutes remaining. Clarke created space brilliantly, allowing him to slip over a cross low from the left. The substitute Aouchiche then broke ahead of his defender to score from close quarters.