Sunderland 0 Leeds United 2: Whites shrug off absence of Wood as Saiz and Dallas down Black Cats

Stuart Dallas, centre right, celebrates with his team-mates after scoring against Sunderland.
Stuart Dallas, centre right, celebrates with his team-mates after scoring against Sunderland.
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A LEEDS United side without Burnley-bound Chris Wood moved up to fifth as goals from Samuel Saiz and Stuart Dallas recorded an excellent 2-0 win at Championship hosts Sunderland.

Just one minute after a superb header from Liam Cooper had diverted Lewis Grabban’s goalbound on to the crossbar, United took a 21st-minute lead when Alioski fed Saiz who clinically finished into the bottom left corner.

Samuel Saiz celebrates scoring against Sunderland.

Samuel Saiz celebrates scoring against Sunderland.

And despite Leeds losing Wood’s match-day replacement Caleb Ekuban to injury, United doubled their advantage 14 minutes from time when substitute Dallas brilliantly heaed home a Saiz cross.

Sunderland opened up United’s defence in the sixth minute when Brendan Galloway raced to the byline and the winger’s cross narrowly failed to find Grabban who was looking to slide the ball home.

Pontus Jansson then saved Leeds two minutes later with a fine tackle on James Vaughan who had just Felix Wiedwald to beat after Vuron Anita’s clearance had been charged down.

Leeds were then saved five minutes later by a brilliant header from Liam Cooper which diverted Grabban’s goalbound shot on to the crossbar.

Leeds United head coach Thomas Christiansen.

Leeds United head coach Thomas Christiansen.

And just one minute later United took the lead when a mistake by Lamine Kone allowed Gianni Alioksi to feed the ball into SSaiz who skillfully found space in the area before rifling home a low shot into the bottom left corner.

After United lost Pablo Hernandez to injury and the Spaniard was replaced by Kemar Roofe, Leeds squandered another fine chance just after the half hour mark when Kalvin Phillips played in Alioski whose low shot sailed harmlessly past the left-hand post.

Leeds were dominating but Sunderland would have levelled in the 39th minute but for a decent save from Wiedwald who reacted quickly to smother a low effort from Lee Cattermole that was destined for the bottom left corner.

Sunderland attempted to build up a head of steam at the start of the second half but Leeds held firm with a cleared header from Jansson whizzing narrowly wide for a corner.

United’s options upfront then became even lighter when Ekuban pulled up injured and had to replaced by Stuart Dallas as Roofe was sent upfront.

But Leeds continued to create chances andJason Steele held firm to keep out an Alioski free-kick before another low shot from Alioski was saved from a Whites counter attack.

And Alioski then sent Leeds on their way to doubling their lead in the 76th minute when racing away down the right flank before passing to Saiz who delivered a powerful cross which Dallas managed to head home into the far corner.

From then on, United rarely looked threatened and Sunderland’s only real remaining chance came in the 90th minute when Billy Jones could only find the side netting at the far post from McGeady’s cross.

Leeds United: Wiedwald, Ayling, Jansson, Cooper, Anita, O’Kane, Phillips, Alioski, Saiz (Klich 81), Hernandez (Roofe 25), Ekuban (Dallas 62). Subs not used: Green, Borthwick-Jackson, Shaughnessy, Vieira.

Sunderland: Steele, Jones, Browning, Kone, Galloway (Matthews 55); Honeyman, Cattermole (Asoro 74), Ndong, McGeady; Vaughan (Khazri 55), Grabban. Subs not used: Ruiter, O’Shea, Gibson, Gooch.

Referee: Andy Davies.

Attendance: 31,237.

Good Day For:

Samuel Saiz. Scored the first goal with a lovely finish, created the second with a delightful cross from the right wing and buzzed around Sunderland’s players like a wasp. If Saiz is a mark of the standard of Leeds’ recruitment, replacing Chris Wood might not be an insurmountable task. The hosts would have killed for a slice of his invention.

Bad Day For:

Fans of Chris Wood. In hindsight, Premier League finance was always likely to win the day and Burnley are rich enough these days to offer a fortune in comparison to the wage bill at Leeds. But Wood’s public declaration that “I don’t feel it is right that I play” at the Stadium of Light will not have won him new friends in these parts. There are ways of handling these things, delicate though transfers can be.

Key Moment:

Lewis Grabban’s shot against the crossbar. The striker was denied by a flick of Liam Cooper’s head and within seconds of that stroke of good fortune, Leeds were ahead. The match turned on that passage of play but Sunderland cannot deny that United rolled them over from there.

INTERNATIONAL CALLING: Leeds United's Liam Cooper.
 Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Christiansen delighted by Scotland call-up for Leeds United’s Liam Cooper