Asamoah Gyan scores as Sunderland thrash Blackburn 3 – 0


    Sunderland claimed their sixth home league win of the season as goals from Danny Welbeck, Darren Bent and Asamoah Gyan comfortably disposed of Blackburn.
    Welbeck’s well-struck snap-shot found the visitors’ net via Ryan Nelsen with little more than 10 minutes gone.
    Bent guided in a glancing header from Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross soon after and Rovers rarely threatened a reply.
    El-Hadji Diouf blazed over from the visitors’ best opening, but Gyan swept home from a swift late counter-attack.
    Defeat would have resulted in it being the first time Steve Bruce had suffered successive home losses while in charge at the Stadium of Light, but a pair of early goals all but eliminated that prospect.
    Instead Bruce, who turned 50 on New Year’s Eve, will have his eyes on out-of-form Chelsea’s fifth place, four points and one spot ahead of his men.
    The hosts had failed to find the net in defeat last time out against Blackpool despite 34 strikes on goal, but rediscovered their scoring touch with their first two attempts.
    David Hoilett’s forthright tackle had prevented Elmohamady from getting the first effort in on Craig Gordon’s goal, but, after making his way gingerly to the sidelines, he recovered to supply assists for both goals.
    Nelsen partially cleared the Egyptian loanee’s first cross, but his header fell only as far as Welbeck and the striker returned fire with a smart half-volley that deflected off the New Zealand defender’s chest and past a stranded Mark Bunn.
    It was Welbeck’s sixth goal in eight games, but Sunderland’s second came as welcome relief for Bent, who had not scored in his previous five games.
    It arrived eight minutes later when another swirling Elmohamady delivery invited Bent to squeeze in front of Grant Hanley and the England striker directed a glancing header past Bunn, who was enduring a miserable time on his first Premier League start.
    With the Blackburn defenders looking justifiably tense every time Elmohamady cocked his right foot, their attacking team-mates offered little further forward.
    A Biram Diouf header looped tamely over the bar before David Dunn’s speculative effort was bravely blocked by David Meyler before it had time to threaten Gordon’s goal.
    When a genuine opening did arise, El-Hadji Diouf, who spent six months on loan at Sunderland two years ago, squandered the chance to halve the deficit and quieten the jeers aimed at him by the home support.
    Morten Gamst Pedersen’s free-kick found him unmarked at the far post and, although the ball was at an awkward height, it was no excuse for a side-foot volley that comfortably cleared the crossbar from all of five yards.
    Dunn came as close as the Senegal striker from considerably further out, but Sunderland remained dangerous as the half drew to a close.
    Welbeck had constantly harried the Rovers’ backline and he clipped the bar with a cute chip that Bunn looked to have covered.
    Rovers boss Steve Kean used a calf injury to Grant Hanley as a chance to introduce Benjani, and a more attacking formation, at the break.
    With almost his first touch took the Zimbabwean neatly slipped Titus Bramble and his arrival seemed to give the visitors more purpose.
    Mame Diouf nodded narrowly wide before Gordon was thankful that a thumping volley from Dunn strayed into the stands.
    Sunderland remained more incisive however and Bent should have topped off some slick build-up play from Kieran Richardson and Steed Malbranque with a close-range finish, but contrived to screw wide.
    Rovers’ attempts to force their way back into the game allowed the Black Cats more space to run at a defence that looked in need of the steadying influence of the injured Christopher Samba.
    Bent should have exploited their fragility but his snap-shot trailed wide before Jordan Henderson flicked the woodwork with a carefully-struck effort from the edge of the area.
    Henderson was not to be denied though and with the freedom to look up and Rovers badly exposed, helped decorate the victory with a third goal.
    His pass allowed Gyan to drive deep into the box and curl the ball round the retreating Brett Emerton and into Bunn’s bottom corner to end his own barren run of six games without a goal.
    Phillip Bardsley came within inches of converting Boudewijn Zenden’s low cross in injury-time but Blackburn were spared a heavier defeat on a thoroughly dispiriting outing.
    Sunderland manager Steve Bruce: “We have had a great start but I believe in this league this is where it starts. Teams pick up injuries and we have to push on. The big thing is can we sustain it? That is the challenge ahead can we maintain this position and clinch a top-10 finish?
    “I think we are in a good position now with a good young squad and the players I have in mind, to be honest, won’t be available in January. I won’t be adding bodies for the sake of it. But if someone becomes available then it is my job to be knocking on the chairman’s door.
    “I would like to dedicate the win to Sam Allardyce. I know he won’t like us beating his former team, but after what has happened to him over the past couple of weeks I am delighted and I will have a few glasses of wine to him tonight.”
    Blackburn boss Steve Kean: “We were disappointed with the amount of crosses that came in and that is something we will have to put right. We hoped Chris Samba would be back today but he is still feeling his ankle and hopefully we will have him and some of the others against Liverpool.
    “If El-Hadji Diouf’s chances had gone in it would have been a different game. We were disappointed because we started the second half well as well, but it is a game of fine margins.
    “We are very confident we will not be drawn into the relegation battle. We have had a good response from the lads despite the defeat today. We have been positive, we have gone out and tried to play and we are confident that we will be looking up in the games to come.”