HANNOVER 96 3 SUNDERLAND 1

Sunderland's Ji Dong-won challenges Hannover's Mohammed Abdellaque.
Sunderland's Ji Dong-won challenges Hannover's Mohammed Abdellaque.
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THE DOG and Duck would have posed more of a threat than some of Hannover 96’s pre-season opponents.

In five previous friendlies, the Bundesliga outfit had notched 59 times in the goals-for column, including 22-1 and 21-0 victories against a pair of local minnows.

Sunderland have deliberately avoided such one-sided work-outs, instead choosing opponents who would battle regardless of their league standing.

Facing a side who finished fourth in the Bundesliga last season and are well ahead of the Black Cats in their preparations arguably came a touch too early in Sunderland’s pre-season programme and held all the warning signs of a first friendly defeat.

So it proved, despite a spirited second half comeback from Steve Bruce’s men.

Yet there was an ironic twist that the biggest positive of the 3-1 defeat should be an unjust decision which proved to be the game’s turning point.

Read Chris Young’s full match report in today’s SportMail.