Sunderland secured sixth place a Championship play-off spot as they beat Preston North End 3-0 at Deepdale on the final day of the season. Second-half goals from Amad, substitute Alex Pritchard, and Jack Clarke, gave the Black Cats the win they needed to fulfil their end of the bargain.
But they still needed help from elsewhere – either Middlesbrough to beat Coventry City, or Millwall to drop points at home to Blackburn Rovers. And, while Boro fought out a 1-1 draw against the Sky Blues, Blackburn came from 3-1 down to beat the Lions 4-3 at The Den.
Sunderland will now face Luton Town, who finished third, in the play-off semi-finals, with the first leg to be played at the Stadium of Light on Saturday (5.30pm kick-off).
Here’s how our Sunderland AFC writer James Hunter rated the players.
Anthony Patterson 7
Made a brilliant save from Bauer to preserve his side’s lead at 1-0, but otherwise Preston barely tested him
Lynden Gooch 7
A fine game at right-back in the first half and then found himself playing as part of a back three in the second period. Went off with an injury, which is a worry
Trai Hume 8
Solid throughout in central defence
Luke O’Nien 8
Rock solid at the heart of defence, as part of a back four or a three
Dennis Cirkin 7
A decent first half before going off at the break with an ankle injury
Pierre Ekwah 8
His best performance for Sunderland so far, and should have scored in the second half
Dan Neil 8
The driving force in midfield, he was outstanding
Patrick Roberts 7
Caused all kinds of problems for the Preston defence
His stunning strike early in the second half set Sunderland on their way
Jack Clarke 8
Provided the assist for Pritchard and scored the third goal himself
Joe Gelhardt 7
Should have scored in the first half, but kept plugging away up front
Alex Pritchard 8
For Cirkin 46mins. His goal gave Sunderland some much-needed breathing space
Joe Anderson 7
For Gooch 66mins. Brought on to replace Gooch and played his part as Sunderland kept a clean sheet
Edouard Michut 7
For Gelhardt 72mins. Was ill over the weekend but came on to play his part in an excellent win
Isaac Lihadji N/A
For Ekwah 86mins.
Abdoullah Ba N/A
For Amad 86mins.
Not used: Bass, Taylor
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