Tony Mowbray’s Sunderland pushed up into the play-off places with a thumping 3-0 win away from home at Loftus Road against Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday night.
Although other teams have games in hand, the club are currently sitting fifth in the Championship and 13 points off the automatic positions, which already look out of reach.
The Black Cats opened the scoring in the 35th minute as Luke O’Nien was first to react in the box to tap the ball in after Daniel Ballard’s effort came back to the midfielder.
QPR were then gifted the perfect opportunity to level the scores in the 67th minute after Aji Alese was penalised for handball in the box, only for Anthony Patterson to step up with a huge save to keep his team in front.
Jack Clarke then sealed the three points with two goals in the final ten minutes of play. The forward cut inside to bend a shot into the bottom corner for his first before slamming home a cutback from Dan Neil in stoppage time for his second.
How did Luke O’Nien perform against Queens Park Rangers?
Plenty of praise will, rightly, head in the ex-Tottenham winger’s direction for his two crucial goals in the emphatic win in London but another player who deserves his flowers alongside Clarke is O’Nien.
Firstly, the former Wycombe man was in the right place at the right time to follow in on Ballard’s effort to put his side 1-0 up. The goal allowed Sunderland to grow in confidence and they built on that by going on to win the game comfortably, albeit with the help of a big save from Patterson in the second half.
His play out of possession was also key to the team’s success in the match.
As per Sofascore, O’Nien won a whopping ten individual duels – more than any of his teammates – out of 14 contested, whilst making three tackles and one interception in the middle of the park.
On the ball, the 28-year-old had 60 touches and completed an impressive 86% of his attempted passes.
He also won five fouls for the side and this helped to alleviate pressure on the defence as well as giving the Black Cats a chance to settle down – preventing the home outfit from building any momentum.
Therefore, O’Nien was one of the big heroes for Mowbray on the night, alongside Clarke, as his play in and out of possession was absolutely superb and the midfield warrior deserves any and all praise that is due to come his way ahead of the next match.