Sunderland are under the ownership of Frenchman Kyril Louis-Dreyfus and many are expecting big things of the Black Cats this season. Their recent form has seen them stuttering somewhat.

Sunderland fans are amongst those expecting such things and have seen the Wearside outfit now go three games unbeaten with yesterday’s victory over a more than useful Cambridge outfit. This keeps them in 5th place in the League One table, three points outside the automatic promotion places.

It was a first-half where Lee Johnson’s side bossed affairs. They dominated possession (60.5%) and had more chances (8) than their hosts (2) in the opening 45 minutes, It was also a half where all three goals were scored in a 2-1 Sunderland win.

First, they profited when Cambridge keeper Dimitar Mitov (15′) was adjudged to have aided a direct corner from Alex Pritchard (below) over the line:

Cambridge brought things level through Sam Smith (27′) before Nathan Broadhead (36′) restored Sunderland’s lead after he turned in a Lynden Gooch assist.

Cambridge United piled forward in the second-half as they looked to drag themselves back into the game. They shaded possession (50.3%/49.7%) and had more shots (7-5) but couldn’t find that breakthrough they so desperately needed to bring them level.

READ: ‘His best game for a few months’ – Plenty of Sunderland fans hail ‘brilliant’ player performance v Cambridge United

Here are three Sunderland players who did Lee Johnson proud in a hard-fought victory over Cambridge United.

Lynden Gooch – WhoScored rating 7.73

American midfielder Gooch stood up to be counted yesterday for the Black Cats in a game that keeps them right in the play-off mix. It’s easy to single out the assist (his second of the season) but his game was more than just that.

He worked hard, completing 28 of his 37 attempted passes – one of these was that vital assist. However, he didn’t shirk his defensive duties where he made five tackles, seven clearances and two interceptions. These totals helped to keep Cambridge at bay and give Sunderland all three points.

Nathan Broadhead – WhoScored rating 7.50

Attacking midfielder Broadhead scored the goal that effectively sealed all three points for Johnson’s side, a win that they had to scrap hard for. That goal was important but, like Gooch, his game was much more than just that.

He had very accurate distribution (86%) of the ball and saw two of his completed passes lead to chances for teammates. He was another who also weighed in when it was required of him in a defensive capacity. He made both tackles that he went in for and also made one clearance in a tidy game.

Ross Stewart – WhoScored rating 7.41

Whilst Scottish striker Stewart didn’t manage to add to his 10 goals for the season, he still put in a performance against Cambridge. His presence and movement ensured that he was a thorn in their side all game long.

He also completed 25 passes from 34 attempts and two of these were key passes leading to teammate chances. He also put himself around a bit, winning three headers as well as one interception and four clearances as Sunderland came under the cosh.

Data derived from the Cambridge United vs Sunderland match profile on the WhoScored website.