Wednesday 25 April 2018

Bruce hails top-class Bent


Damian Spellman

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce dedicated victory over Blackburn to sacked colleague Sam Allardyce. Bruce -- who celebrated his 50th birthday on Friday -- is a close friend of Allardyce and was swift to condemn his dismissal by Rovers last month after the game.

"I would like to say, that's for Sam," he said. "I spoke to him this morning and the nonsense that went around with his sacking, that was for him. I hope he has a drink in Dubai, where he is at the moment. That was for him.

"I know he is a pal, but the ludicrous position they have put themselves in is quite unbelievable, whoever has taken over there. To sack someone like Sam and then appoint his coach, I find totally and utterly ridiculous, not just because he is a friend."

Bruce was a happy man after seeing strikers Darren Bent, Asamoah Gyan and Danny Welbeck rediscover their touch in front of goal after a barren day against Blackpool on Tuesday.

Having wasted a hatful of chances to see off the Seasiders and paid the price, Sunderland were guilty of passing up several more yesterday. However, this time they managed to take enough of them to seal a comfortable victory and erase the memory of a bad day at the office.

They were ahead within 11 minutes when Welbeck's shot was deflected past keeper Mark Bunn by Ryan Nelsen, and Bent ended his personal goal drought eight minutes later with a deft header from Ahmed Elmohamady's inviting cross. Black Cats old boy El-Hadji Diouf was guilty of a glaring miss from just two yards 11 minutes before the break, but Bent matched it in the second half as he failed to make the most of at least three gilt-edged opportunities.

It was left to substitute Gyan to wrap up the win a minute from time with a fine curling right-foot finish.

Bruce -- who confirmed that skipper Lee Cattermole faces a month on the sidelines with a back problem -- was particularly pleased for Bent, who had gone five games without a goal before yesterday.

"I am pleased for him because as I have said repeatedly, class is permanent," said Bruce. "He is still, in the calendar year, the top English goalscorer in the Premier League, which is a remarkable achievement.

"He might miss a few chances, like they all do, but he is terrific."

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