Soccer

John Eustace revels in ‘perfect’ Blackburn performance against Sunderland

It has taken him 10 games to get his first win as Rovers boss.

John Eustace got his first Blackburn win in fine style
John Eustace John Eustace got his first Blackburn win in fine style (Nick Potts/PA)

John Eustace hailed an “all-round perfect performance” after Blackburn eased their Championship relegation worries with a 5-1 hammering of Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

The Rovers manager was also full of praise for his “unplayable” front four of Sam Gallagher, Sammie Szmodics, Tyrhys Dolan and Ryan Hedges.

Szmodics’ double – his 22nd and 23rd goals of the season – set Blackburn on their way in the first half, with Dolan and Hedges then putting the game out of sight of the hosts within 10 minutes of the restart. Substitute Andrew Moran wrapped up the convincing win after Chris Rigg’s consolation.

It was Eustace’s first win at the 10th time of asking in charge of Rovers, who are now five points clear of the drop zone.

“It was an outstanding performance,” he said. “It’s been coming. The performances have been excellent over the time I’ve been here. You could see the togetherness was there.

“We’ve had some really difficult games but been competitive and rolled our sleeves up. The most important thing was we won playing our style of football but we also showed that level of commitment and desire to defend the box.

“The front four were awesome, they were unplayable at times and the most important thing for me was what they did without the ball, that was outstanding and was the platform.

“It was an all-round perfect performance.”

Furious Mike Dodds hammered his Sunderland players after what he described as a “pathetic” display.

The Black Cats ended a seven-game winless run with a 2-0 win at Cardiff on Good Friday but failed to build on that showing and were booed off at half-time and full-time by the home supporters.

Hopes of another top-six finish have disappeared in recent weeks and Sunderland are now 13 points shy of the play-off places.

Dodds said: “It’s a bad result and an even worse performance. It’s completely unacceptable and I don’t say that lightly. That’s probably the best word I can find.

“Blackburn were deserved winners and I don’t like saying that on our own patch.

“As head coach I have to take responsibility for it, when they’re back in for training there are going to be some uncomfortable conversations but they need to be had if we’re to move forward.

“The players haven’t had much of a chance to talk in there, they’re under no illusions as to my thoughts: if they want to play for this football club then they’re going to have to deliver a better performance than that. If they don’t, they won’t play.

“I could have subbed the whole team when I made the changes in the second half. We’re going to have to reflect and use it as motivation, use it as a huge learning curve – it’s completely unacceptable.”