Cardiff City 0 - 2 Sunderland. Match Report

Last updated : 31 March 2024 By BBC Sport

Sunderland ended their seven-match winless run with a flourish as they strode to a comfortable victory at Cardiff City.


Adil Aouchiche's penalty fired the visitors in front at Cardiff City Stadium, scoring at the same end of the ground where Wales had lost a penalty shootout against Poland in their Euro 2024 play-off final just three days earlier.

Sunderland carved open the Cardiff defence at will and deservedly doubled their lead before the break as Jobe Bellingham slid in to convert Aouchiche's fine cross.

The second half was a less one-sided affair, with Cardiff threatening to fight back as Dimitrios Goutas' late header grazed the top of the crossbar.

But Sunderland were always in control as they earned Mike Dodds a first win of his second spell as interim head coach.

The Black Cats remain 12th in the Championship table and Cardiff stay 11th, with neither club in serious contention for the play-offs or in danger of getting dragged into a relegation battle.

This was a much-needed win for Sunderland, who occupied one of the play-off places as recently as February, before a six-match losing run had sent them tumbling down the table to such an extent that they were 13 points adrift of the top six coming into this fixture.

Dodds' men had halted their losing streak with a goalless draw at home to Queens Park Rangers and, as they searched for a first victory in eight games, the Black Cats could not have wished for more charitable opponents.

As impressive as Sunderland were, Cardiff were abysmal.

Erol Bulut's side were also in need of a lift having lost their last game before the international break at arch rivals Swansea City, while several Bluebirds fans would have been at Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday to watch Wales miss out on Euro 2024 qualification with a shattering penalty shootout defeat against Poland.

As if to prolong the agony, they had to watch their team concede from a spot-kick at the same end of the ground after just 12 minutes against Sunderland.

Cardiff centre-back Goutas gave the ball away and, as Bellingham drove into the box, the Sunderland midfielder fell from what seemed like the faintest of brushes from Goutas. Referee Jeremy Simpson pointed to the spot and Aouchiche scored emphatically.

The decision to award the penalty may have been contentious, but there was no denying Sunderland's superiority.

Cardiff were indebted to goalkeeper Evan Horvath for keeping them in the game with saves from Abdoullah Ba and Chris Rigg.

The American could not keep Sunderland at bay for long, however, as Aouchiche's inviting cross from the right gave Bellingham a close-range chance he simply could not miss.

Booed off at half-time, Cardiff were not much better after the interval and were close to falling further behind as Dan Neil curled one of his many efforts on goal narrowly wide.

As has been the case all season, set-pieces were Cardiff's likeliest route to a goal and they almost got themselves back into contention when Goutas' header from an Aaron Ramsey corner glanced off the top of the bar.

That was about as good as it got for the home side, though.

By contrast, Sunderland had chances to add to their lead and, although Ba fired wide and substitute Luis Semedo was thwarted by Horvath, this was an afternoon to savour for Dodds and his players. 

Cardiff City: Horvath, Ng, Goutas, Phillips, Wilson-Esbrand (Diedhiou 45’), Ralls (Robinson 64’), Wintle, R Colwill (Ramsey 45’), Bowler (Meite 76’), O’Dowda, Grant. Substitutes: Turner, Romeo, Siopis, Turnbull, Tanner.  

Sunderland: Patterson, Styles (Hjelde 71’), O’Nien, Ballard, Hume, Neil, Ba (Dack 88’), Rigg (Mundle 71’), Bellingham, Ekwah, Aouchiche (Semedo 80’). Substitutes: Alese, Bishop, Burstow, Pembele, Roberts.