Amad Diallo stars in Sunderland win after being trusted ahead of "best player in the Championship"
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Manchester United loanee Amad Diallo provided a phenomenal performance for Sunderland on Friday evening, where he scored and assisted in a 2-1 victory against Birmingham City, with Tony Mowbray singing the winger's praises.
The Northern side started excellently at St. Andrew's Stadium, with Amad turning provider after 25 minutes. Surrounded by four men on the edge of the box, the winger twisted and turned until he found the opening for a pass to Ellis Simms inside the hosts' area, who made no mistake in front of goal.
He continued to impress as the visitors went into the break in the lead, a result that would eventually propel them into 12th place in the Championship and just four points away from the play-off positions.
It didn't take long for United's on-loan Ivorian talent to make his mark in the second half.
Just four minutes after the restart, Amad showed exactly what he can produce on the right in a quick counter-attack which doubled the Black Cats' lead.
With Daniel Neil switching the ball to Amad on the right flank, the 20-year-old had a direct one-on-one with his full-back.
After squaring the defender up Amad shifted inside and quickly shot towards the far corner, with his curling effort beating John Ruddy via the post.
Despite a late goal from the Midlands side, Sunderland were able to hold on to get three points and manager Mowbray was full of praise for the United loanee after the game.
His inclusion in the starting line-up over Patrick Roberts was an example of his recent form on the pitch, with three goals in his last five games, but also on the training ground.
"As I've been saying, when you've got no strikers you have to find a way - who is going to score the goals - and Amad has come to the party," Mowbray began.
"I think there's an understanding now that this kid has got real talent and deserves to be well-respected within the football team.
"For me to pick Amad over Patrick Roberts, because I said a few weeks ago that I don't think there is a better footballer in the league than Patrick Roberts, yet I left him out for Amad tonight because in training he has been unbelievable with the ball, how fast he is, how direct he is.
"You look at his physical data in every one of the last three or four games and he's had the highest distance covered, the highest sprint distance, the highest intensity energy runs.
"He played and scored a wonderful goal, but we see him do it every day.
"He's an amazing footballer. Somebody said he cost £37m from Atalanta when he joined Manchester United, so I find it difficult to think how he is at Sunderland, but probably the pressure of playing in front of a big crowd and he relishes it.
"He can run all day and he has the ball stuck to his foot, he runs past people and he can score goals like that. We're delighted he's here with us."
The talented wide man was substituted mid-way through the second half after it seemed he was in pain after being poked in the eye. The Sunderland manager confirmed it wasn't anything too serious.
"I asked him if he wanted to stay on and he said he couldn't see and he was in a bit of pain. Hopefully that will settle down, and he'll be fine I'm sure."
After taking time to settle into the club, Amad has impressed in recent weeks and has scored three goals in his last five Championship appearances.