|[12 FEB 00] COVENTRY CITY MATCH REPORT - PREMIERSHIP
Coventry City (3) 3
Sunderland (0) 2
BY ADAM DENT
The Sky Blues returned to winning ways - but at a
cost and after putting their supporters through more heart-stopping moments at Highfield
Gordon Strachans side, on the back of two successive defeats, turned on the style
to score three goals inside the opening 20 minutes against Peter Reids men but still
had to endure three minutes of agony as they allowed the visitors back into a game that
should have been long dead.
And, to make matters worse, Steve Froggatt could miss out on an England call-up on
Wednesday after a challenge from Nicky Summerbee left him needing x-rays on a leg injury.
Strachan was clearly and rightly incensed by referee Paul Alcocks
failure to punish a string of over-physical challenges from Sunderland in a nasty first
The City manager was, on the other hand, left enthusing about the style in which his
side established their lead.
The catalyst was the return of Moroccans Moustapha Hadji, who had arguably his best
game for the club, and Youssef Chippo.
The Sky Blues made the perfect start when Robbie Keane, looking back to near his best
form, put them ahead after less that two minutes. But the goal owed much to Hadji
his shot was spilled by Thomas Sorensen allowing Keane to follow in for his 11th
of the season.
City were rocked by yet another injury when Froggatt hobbled off in the fifth minute
and had to be replaced by Barry Quinn.
City stretched their lead in the 13th minute when Gary Breen headed on a
Gary McAllister corner leaving Hadji to convert from just a yard.
Once again Sunderlands response was physical and Stefan Schwarz took out Tomas
Gustafsson with a crude challenge which saw no yellow card. If Sunderland's robust style
was a policy then it failed to work for five minutes later Cedric Roussel bagged his fifth
goal in a fortnight.
He and Hadji were left in space inside the Sunderland area and the young Belgian
gratefully swept the ball home.
Coventry could have had more Roussel hooked a volley just wide and Niall Quinn
superbly headed off his own line from compatriot Gary Breen.
Sunderland had given precious little service to Quinn and Kevin Phillips who were
making little or no impression.
They responded to Reids half time onslaught but still there looked no hint of a
tight finish when Phillips rattled in his 23rd goal of the season just short of
Hadji went close with two long-range efforts, Keane continued to cause problems while
Roussel won more than his fair share of ball in the air.
But, which just two minutes of normal time remaining, sub Alex Rae bundled home a knock
back from Niall Quinn to give the visitors hope. That looked to have been realised when
Kevin Kilbane tried his luck from 25 yards only for Hedman to tip his effort onto a post
and out for a corner.
Hedman; Gustafsson, Shaw, Breen, Froggattt (Quinn, 9 mins); Chippo (Normann, 85 mins),
McAllister, Eustace, Hadji; Keane, Roussel
Subs: Ogrizovic, Gavin Strachan, Konjic
Sorensen; Williams (Holloway, 63 mins), Butler, Craddock, Makin; Summerbee (Rae, 78 mins)
Schwarz, McCann (Roy, 66 mins), Kilbane; Phillips, Quinn
Subs: Reddy, Marriott
Coventry - Keane (2 mins), Hadji (13 mins), Roussel (18 mins)
Sunderland - Phillips (58 mins), Rae (88 mins)
REFEREE: Paul Alcock (Kent)
Coventry Eustace (80 mins)
Sunderland Makin (38 mins), Schwarz (51 mins), McCann (54 mins)
COVENTRY MAN OF THE MATCH: Hadji had a hand in every