Russell Martin | The players should enjoy that win, it can be an important one for us

14th January 2023
First team

Russell Martin hopes Swansea City’s victory at Sunderland can be a big win in their season, and praised his players for how they handled a hostile atmosphere at the Stadium of Light.

The Swans ran out 3-1 winners on Wearside thanks to second-half goals from Joel Piroe, Liam Cullen and Ollie Cooper against their 10-man hosts.

The Black Cats had Luke O’Nien sent off after 18 minutes for a rash, lunging challenge on Cooper, but proved difficult to break down as they defended stubbornly while offering a threat on the counter.

Piroe broke the deadlock after good work by Matt Grimes and Ryan Manning, but the hosts hit back through Dan Neil.

However, Cullen was on hand to bundle in his fourth goal in his last six games after a blocked cross fell to him, before Cooper sent a thunderous rising strike into the roof of the net to seal the win.

The result moves the Swans back within three points of the play-off places and level with the Black Cats, who had been on a five-match unbeaten run.

"I'm really pleased with the players. It's such a tough place to come," said the Swans boss.

"They started the game really well, the crowd and atmosphere here is so good, and we had spoken about it before the game.

Sunderland away Joel Piroe celebration

"The game changes on the sending off. It took us a little while to manage the emotion of that, because the crowd were so up after it, although it was a clear red card.

"It was about settling things down at half-time. We got too involved in some petty stuff towards the end of the first-half which didn't serve us, it only served the Sunderland fans in giving them more energy.

"We needed the right balance between being patient and keeping the ball speed really quick, I thought we did that really well in the second-half, because at times we had looked to play a killer ball a bit too early in the first half.

"Once we were in their half, I thought some of the play was really good. I'm disappointed to concede a goal given they were down to 10 men and we limited them to very little.

"On the whole, I'm really pleased. I told the players in the dressing room to enjoy it because you have to enjoy that feeling, especially when it is away from home.

“They weren’t smiling enough because there is an expectation that you have to win against 10 men, but we’ve seen often enough that it’s not easy.

“So I’ve told them to smile a bit more and enjoy it. It’s three really important points and I hope it can be a big win for us.”

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