Sunderland beaten by Middlesbrough in ‘fitness-building’ friendly

Dame N'Doye scored for Sunderland in their friendly defeat to Middlesbrough. Picture: PA

Dame N'Doye scored for Sunderland in their friendly defeat to Middlesbrough. Picture: PA - Credit: PA

Sunderland have tried to make use of the international break by playing a 'fitness-building' friendly – and losing 2-1 to lower level opposition.

The Black Cats, who are currently locked in a three-way battle to avoid Premier League relegation with Norwich City and Newcastle, were beaten by Championship promotion chasers and North-East rivals Middlesbrough at the Stadium of Light.

The hosts used first-team players including Jeremain Lens, Dame N'Doye, Ola Toivonen, Lee Cattermole and Jan Kirchhoff alongside recent signing Emmanuel Eboue, experienced goalkeeper Steve Harper and some of the club's young talent.

Kike took advantage of a defensive error to fire Boro ahead but N'Doye headed the Black Cats level. January signing Jordan Rhodes then scored the winner for the visitors in the second half.

Sam Allardyce's side are two points adrift of the Canaries, who currently occupy the final safety spot in the Premier League table, with eight games left to play.

They host West Brom when they return to league action on Saturday, April 2. That is followed by the visit of leaders Leicester on Sunday, April 2 and a trip to Norwich on Saturday, April 16 (12.45pm kick-off).

Sunderland: Harper, Eboue, Jones, Robson, Beadling, Cattermole, Kirchhoff, Lens, Toivonen, Honeyman, N'Doye

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Sunderland (second half): Stryjek, Eboue (Brady 75), Jones, Robson, Beadling, Cattermole (Agnew 80), Kirchhoff, Lens, Toivonen, Honeyman, N'Doye.

Middlesbrough: Agazzi, De Laet, Kalas, Gibson, Kitching, Nsue, Clayton, Forshaw, De Pena, Kike (Adomah 35), Nugent.

Middlesbrough (second half): Mejias, De Laet, Ayala, Kalas, Friend, Adomah, Tinkler, Forshaw, De Pena, Rhodes, Nugent (Wheatley 67).