Sunderland 1 Bolton Wanderers 0

Bruce is wary of talking The second half became more of a pitched battle than a football match.

Bolton, under something of a revolution with Owen Coyle at the helm after a string of attractive displays, almost reverted to type on Wearside, bringing Ivan Klasnic on in attack to provide some aerial competition.

It wasn’t until the 70th minute when Sunderland had their first effort, with Welbeck starting and finishing a promising passage of play.

First, Welbeck found Bent, who touched outside to Henderson, who whipped a pass past Bent and to the feet of Gyan. The Ghanaian cut back to Welbeck, whose shot crept past Jaaskelainen and hit the foot of the post.

Bolo Zenden, who replaced Gyan shortly after his involvement in the Welbeck chance, snatched at a shot straight at Jaaskelainen on 82 minutes, and also headed wide on 90 minutes.

Bolton did rally late on, but the extra man in attack – Klasnic – could not make the breakthrough for the visitors and Sunderland weathered the storm.

What will please Bruce more than anything was the manner in which his side ground out the result.

He said: “We’ve now got more clean sheets than anyone in the division which is a wonderful achievement.

“It’s one area where we did strengthen, where we did make a conscious effort, because last year we struggled with it.

“Thankfully the lads we’ve brought in and the ones who are still here have risen to the challenge “They look like proper defenders now. They get themselves in the road, with blocks and tackles coming in.

“We rode our luck at times but defensively that’s three on the spin so it bodes well.”



1-0 (32, diving header after Bent’s control and shot was parried out by Jaaskelainen)

Bookings: Cahill (34, foul); Cattermole (40, foul); Holden (54, foul)

Referee: Chris Foy (St Helens) – Inconsistent to book Cattermole then ignore a similar challenge by Elmander minutes later, but was otherwise keen to let play continue 6

Attendance: 35,101

Entertainment: ✰✰


8 GORDON: His instinctive stop was superb, dealt with crosses with aplomb and distribution was assured

7 Onuoha: Moved inside after injury to Mensah, and dealt with Bolton’s threat superbly

8 Ferdinand: Possibly his most assured performance for Sunderland, did the simple things well

5 Mensah: Only lasted 22 minutes before being replaced, a knock to the ankle has ensured he will miss the Christmas period

7 Bardsley: Looks every inch the left-back now, got forward well to support attacks

7 Henderson: Quietly got on with his job and looks to be back on form

6 Cattermole: By rights he should have been sent off, his second offence was ironically more worthy of a yellow than his first

5 Richardson: Was deployed deeper than he is maybe used to, but play passed him by too much

8 Welbeck: Offered a real threat going forward and was at the heart of all attacks. Took his goal well

7 Gyan: Often displays an almost Cantona-esque enigmatic trait, must be a nightmare to manage – but he seems to deliver

6 Bent: Sublime control for Welbeck’s goal, but is by no means firing on all cylinders.


Elmohamady (for Mensah, 22) Often displays a child-like desire to win the ball, but was a decent outlet on the right side of defence. 6 Zenden (for Gyan, 74) 6.

(not used): Mignolet (gk), Angeleri, Malbranque, Da Silva, Riveros.

BOLTON (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen 6; Ricketts 6, Cahill 7, Knight 6, Robinson 6; Holden 7, Petrov 6 (Klasnic 63 5), Muamba 6 (Cohen 83), Taylor 7 (Moreno 83); DAVIES 7, Elmander 7.

Subs (not used): Bogdan, Steinsson, Blake, Lee.


CRAIG Gordon – save of the season aside, marked his return to action with some quality goalkeeping and helped his side to a third clean sheet on the bounce.