Manchester City 2-2 Sunderland: ...Hang On, WHAT?!

Alex Livesey

City took an early lead before a Giaccherini & Wickham inspired fight-back brought Sunderland tantilisingly close to a crucial 3 points...

Sunderland typically lost an early goal before putting in an extremely good performance that was agonisingly close to yet another famous victory over Manchester City. In the end we had to settle for a draw, but that still leaves us as the only side other than Jose Mourinho's Chelsea to escape the Etihad with any points in tow.

The game started exactly as would have been expected, with Lee Cattermole robbed of possession after dallying on the ball to let City score the opening goal within two minutes. Negredo did well to rob Sunderland's ex-captain, before cleverly stepping over a return pass to leave the ball to Fernandinho. Free in the box, the Brazilian flashed his shot passed Mannone at the near post to give his side the lead to the surprise of precisely nobody. Cattermole has been losing possession in the same costly fashion all season.

However after this things got a bit...weird. Until at least the half hour mark Sunderland completely ran the game, and should really have been at least 3-1 up. Firstly two well-taken set pieces resulted in John O'Shea missing two headers from six yards out when he really should've scored. After that Fabio Borini found himself on the ball behind the City defence, but instead of squaring to Jack Colback, or shooting with more accuracy and power, he aimed for the far post and pulled his shot across the face of the goal.

The second half carried on in much the same vein with City have perhaps more of the ball than in the first half, but certainly not peppering Sunderland's goal or looking that likely to get ahead. Then it happened. Nacho Scocco and Emanuele Giaccherini linked up beautifully on the edge of the City box to free the Italian down the left-side, his cross was perfect and was cushioned brilliantly home by Connor Wickham. The hairgel enthusiast had been putting in another decent performance, and kept his cool brilliantly when it really mattered. Clearly being out on loan had meant he'd missed the Sunderland coaching on how you are meant to spoon chances from this distance over the bar.

After the goal we dropped deeper and deeper, seemingly ignoring Poyet's impassioned urges to push higher up the pitch. But then Giaccherini regained possession deep in Sunderland's half, with just a handful of City defenders in front of him. Charging forwards like Gandalf at Helm's Deep, the winger waited for the perfect moment to slide the ball into the path of Wickham, who was bursting a gut to get up in support. The striker took a neat touch, moved into the box and then. And then... I don't really know how to say it... AND THEN HE THUMPED IT PAST JOE HART AT THE NEAR POST SUNDERLAND 2-1 MANCHESTER CITY.

Genuine deep shock followed, a Wickham-induced fugue state. We were winning. At the Etihad. WHAT?!

Of course, it all went tits up in the most Sunderland way possible. Samir Nasri shot straight at Vito Mannone and the 'keeper somehow contrived to fumble it back into the net. But hey. Let's focus on the positives. We played brilliantly, for a while we were actually winning and well deserved to be so, and we still came away with a draw. It probably won't save us from relegation, but it was a damn sight better than losing 2-0 away to Norwich.

Sunderland: Vito Mannone; Santiago Vergini, Wes Brown, John O'Shea, Marcos Alonso; Jack Colback, Lee Cattermole, Seb Larsson (Emanuele Giaccherini 68'); Adam Johnson, Connor Wickham, Fabio Borini (Nacho Scocco 69').

Goals: Connor Wickham (73', 83')

Manchester City: Joe Hart; Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, Martin Demichelis, Aleksandar Kolarov; James Milner, Javi Garcia, Fernandinho (Jack Rodwell 87'), Samir Nasri; Sergio Aguero (Stefan Jovetic 57'), Alvaro Negredo (Edin Dzeko 69').

Goals: Fernandinho (2'), Samir Nasri (88')

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