Report: Bristol City 3-3 Sunderland
Saturday, February 10th 2018
A Famara Diédhiou brace in a rampant first-half City display proved not to be enough as Sunderland fought back in a 3-3 draw at Ashton Gate.
Aden Flint reacted quickest as City raced into a fifth-minute lead, before Diédhiou pounced twice in six minutes to give City a 3-0 advantage.
They pressed for a fourth but the Black Cats cut the deficit through an unfortunate Josh Brownhill own goal. Aiden McGeady struck ten minutes from time, with the visitors' stoppage-time equaliser deflecting into the net via Marlon Pack.
Lee Johnson named Frank Fielding in goal - his only change to the side which started against Bolton Wanderers last week with Luke Steele handed a place on the BS3 bench.
Based on league standings, City went into this one as favourites against a struggling Black Cats but with only one win in 2018 to their name, the Robins certainly hadn’t been getting ahead of themselves in the their preparation.
That being said, it was a free-flowing opening 45 minutes for the home side, who looked fresh and in the mood following their training trip to Dubai, with Flint striking from close range to give Johnson’s side the perfect start.
Joe Bryan had been fouled by Lee Cattermole, with the unmarked Flint latching on to Pack’s resulting set piece.
Sunderland offered little in attack but Ashley Fletcher went closest when he clipped an effort wide of goal although Fielding never really looked threatened.
Reid, chasing his 15th goal of the campaign, was unable to latch on to clever through balls from Pack and Jamie Paterson with their efforts hit a little too long for the striker.
But the Bristolian was involved every time City looked to break forward and it was the Academy graduate who teed up Diédhiou to double the lead. The Senegalese frontman took control of Reid’s pass before rounding Lee Camp and smashing a shot into the roof of the net, despite the angle working against hime and a recovering Sunderland defender on the line.
The pair almost combined again just minutes later but Diédhiou couldn’t stretch far enough to convert Reid’s low cross from the right.
A DOMINANT FORCE
City were now the dominant force and Korey Smith fired narrowly wide of goal after neat passing play on the edge of the box.
But it was Diédhiou again, City’s record summer signing, who grabbed his second and the Robins’ third goal of the game. Reid slipped Ryan Kent down the right wing before the Liverpool loanee crossed for the former Angers strike to stab the ball home.
Johnson’s side wanted more before the half-time whistle and Bryan almost delivered; his right-footed curling effort sailing just over the bar after he had cut inside.
Sunderland’s fans would have hoped for a brighter start to the second half and that was certainly the case as Fletcher saw his close-range header blocked just moments before Ovie Ejaria fired over.
PRESSING FOR A FOURTH
But it was City who thought they had added further daylight when Diédhiou pounced but the official’s flag was raised for a handball call.
Suddenly the pendulum was back in City’s favour as they pursued that fourth goal. First, Kent and Loïs Diony combined before the young winger saw a fierce effort blocked. Diony, on loan from Saint Etienne, then mis-hit his shot as he latched on to Diédhiou’s deft flick in the area.
The Black Cats did see the ball in the back of Fielding’s net, cutting the deficit courtesy of an unfortunate own goal. Midfielder Cattermole rose to crash a header against the crossbar and the ball hit Brownhill before rolling into the net.
Sunderland boss Chris Coleman threw Kezunga Lualua ad Aiden McGeady on to the pitch to brighten the Black Cats’ attack with the away side sensing another goal could make an interesting finale.
And with ten minutes remaining, it was 3-2. Substitute McGeady struck with a low, sweeping strike as he converted Cattermole’s free kick to the right of the City penalty area, following a foul on striker Joel Asoro.
This game was set for a nervy ending, with the hosts still teasing that fourth goal when Kent fired agonisingly wide of Camp’s far post.
Paterson then had calls for a penalty turned away as he claimed a to have been pulled back before Camp could scramble the ball at his feet.
Ashton Gate would be stunned as the Coleman’s Black Cats completed the comeback but they would first witness an outstanding save from Fielding, who first parried LuaLua’s effort from range before flinging an arm out to deny Fletcher’s close follow up.
But the sixth goal of the game, and the all-important equaliser fore the visitors, came courtesy of Pack, deep into stoppage time, who inadvertently flicked the ball beyond Fielding after LuaLua’s drilled cross from the byline.
City had little time to react and the full-time whistle ensured both sides would share the spoils and leave the Robins in sixth place in the Sky Bet Championship.
The Robins travel to face Leeds United next Sunday (4.30pm kick-off).