Sunderland secure their place in Championship play-offs at the expense of Millwall and Blackburn with a thumping 3-0 win over Preston, as Amad Diallo, Alex Pritchard and Jack Clarke all get their names on the scoresheet at Deepdale
- Sunderland seal Championship play-off spot after 3-0 victory over Preston
- On-loan Man Utd star Amad Diallo opened the scoring for Tony Mowbray’s men
- Alex Pritchard and Jack Clarke completed win for Black Cats who finish sixth
Five thousand Sunderland fans jubilantly sang in the rain as their side clinched a play-off spot in dramatic style.
Tony Mowbray’s side required a three-goal swing at half-time with their game at Preston still goalless while rivals Millwall led Blackburn 3-1.
But in an incredible turnaround, The Lions surrendered their advantage in south London while The BlackCats turned on the gas and saw off North End with brilliant goals from Amad Diallo, Alex Pritchard and Jack Clarke.
They will now face Luton in the play-off semi-final as they bid to return to the Premier League for the first time since 2017.
There was little hint of the drama to come as Sunderland failed to break the deadlock in the opening 45 minutes while their rivals led.
Jack Clarke celebrates Sunderland’s third goal that saw the Black Cats make the play-offs
Mowbray played an ambitious 4-2-4 with goals on his mind but Joe Gelhardt had his close-range effort smothered by Andy Woodman while at the other end Liam Delap missed for Preston when put clean through.
Preston (3-1-4-2): Woodman, Storey, Bauer, Lindsay, McCann, Potts, Fernandez, Parrott (Onomah 56), Ledson, Delap (Woodburn 69), Cannon
Subs: Cornell, Slater, Leigh, Mawene, Kamara
Booked: Storey, Ledson
Manager: Ryan Lowe
Sunderland: (4-2-3-1): Patterson, Gooch (Anderson 66), Hume, O’Nien, Curkin (Pritchard 46), Neil, Ekwah (Lihadji 86), Clarke, Diallo (Ba 86), Roberts, Gelhardt (Michut 72)
Subs: Bass, Taylor,
Scorers: Diallo 54, Pritchard 61, Clarke 64
Manager: Tony Mowbray
The Sunderland boss introduced the craft of Alex Pritrchard at half-time it paid dividends.
Dan Neil went close after 48 minutes and then Pierre Ekwah hit Woodman from eight yards when a composed finish either side would have done the job.
But after 54 minutes, the Sunderland pressure final forced the Preston dam to burst.
Manchester United loanee Diallo underlined his quality by wrapping his left foot around the ball and firing into the top corner from just inside the box.
It was the 20-year-old winger’s 13 goal of the season and the Sunderland fans packed in behind that goal chanted his name in unison.
Patterson saved from point-blank range from Bauer to keep the lead intact and after 61 minutes, at the transformative Pritchard added a brilliant second.
The midfielder gave Woodman the eyes before hooking his shot just inside the right-hand post to leave the ‘keeper wrongfooted.
With news that Millwall had surrendered a 3-1 lead, the BlackCats were now in a play-off position and to keep the party going Jack Clarke then fired in a brilliant third after 65 minutes, cutting into from the left before burying a low finish past Woodman.