McNair hits double to give Moyes a rare ray of light
QPR 1 Sunderland 2
Goals and wins are the lifeblood of football but neither has been coming easily to Sunderland. Before last night they had won just once all season, against Shrewsbury Town at home a month ago; they had scored just four goals, two from Jermain Defoe, one from Adnan Januzaj, neither of whom were playing here at Loftus Road.
So who at Sunderland could sniff at this: a win over a hard-working Queens Park Rangers side, putting them into the fourth round of the EFL Cup? Yes, they did not play well, but they have not played well all season.
When they were 1-0 down with 20 minutes left it felt like business as usual, only worse. But then Paddy McNair, who had never scored a senior goal in his life, popped up with two to win it. By the end the 2,214 Sunderland fans were olé-ing. They do not see this sort of thing every week.
Sunderland could easily have put their minds to more important things this week but David Moyes came to Loftus Road with a clear intention to win the game. He kept five of the players who started at White Hart Lane with Patrick van Aanholt, withdrawn just before kick-off, back in this side last night.
It felt that this would be a game devoid of any quality at all, at least until some changes were made. But then Sandro, on the hour mark, produced a moment of brilliance to remind the world why he was once rated so highly. Sunderland failed to fully clear a corner and it fell to Sandro, 20 yards from goal.
Falling backwards, he swung at the ball with his left foot, meeting it on the volley. He had been trying out his shooting all night but this time he hit it perfectly, finding the bottom corner of the net.
For 10 noisy minutes Rangers were ahead, but it could not last. Their defence never looked assured or organised enough, and eventually it took a simple Sunderland move to open them up.
McNair is not a box-to-box midfielder but his sharp one-two with Duncan Watmore sent him through on goal and he stabbed the ball calmly under Matt Ingram.
Once Sunderland had scored, their victory was inevitable, and the winning goal came 10 minutes later, from the same man. QPR were simply too open and too tired, as Didier Ndong drove with the ball down the right. His shot was palmed away by Ingram, but McNair again was sharpest, bounding into the box and stroking the ball into the net.
QPR threw everything at the last 10 minutes but it was not enough. Sunderland stroked the ball around at the end, as if nothing could be more natural than winning a match. (© Independent News Service)