Adam Johnson scored a spectacular goal to salvage a stoppage time equaliser against Sunderland at the Stadium of light on a wet dreary afternoon.
Sunderland had just ended an abysmal run of games without a win and were hoping to double that tally against homesick City. The Blues hadn`t featured since the drubbing of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and had some serious match rust to shake off if we were to continue our quest into the top four.
A seven goal thriller was witnessed at Eastland`s earlier in the season, turning out to be the last game under Mark Hughes, and new manager Mancini was hoping for some more potent attacking play. Sunderland`s defensive skills have left a lot to be desired and after netting four at Stamford Bridge our attack was in buoyant mood. However, under Mancini, apart from a devastating 45 minutes at Chelsea, the fluidity of play has been rigid and difficult to endure.
Sunderland started brightly, City were slow to begin with and the home crowd sensed an opportunity against a ring rusty side. Mancini had opted for a defensive set up but after slack closing down and poor marking Kenwyne Jones stooped higher than any of his competitors and headed home. With a lot of football still to be played, Sunderland were expected to be on the back foot, fending off continuous breaks and several goal-mouth opportunities. Unfortunately, The Blues could only muster half-chances and anything thrown at Craig Gordon was thwarted with ease. Surprisingly, the home side were in the ascendency, creating the most chances and picking off the lacklustre City attacks with ease.
The first half went slowly for any neutral spectator with City extremely poor. After what must have been a scene or fury and rage from Mancini City came out much brighter, spurning several spectacular opportunities with Gordon at his brilliant best. Santa Cruz, Bellamy and most notably Wright-Phillips had an unbelievable to chance to equalise but their efforts were powder-puff over thunderbolt.
These chances continued but Sunderland were soaking up the pressure and slowing the tempo. Despite numerous efforts the Sunderland keeper prevented everything thrown at him and was proving a colossal in goal. Both managers made their own tactical choices, Mancini trying to force the issue, Bruce trying to prevent City`s stars from playing football and creating any more clear-cut opportunities.
However, up step Adam Johnson, the ex-Middlesbrough winger, provided some much needed magic and spark in the dying minutes of Injury time. After a deep corner, Johnson stood unfazed and composed, unleashing a dipping, left footed, wonder shot into the top corner of Gordon`s goal.
There was little time for any team to take away a vital win and a draw was probably a fair outcome. City started understandably rusty and Sunderland made them pay early on. Despite this, as the game progressed City looked desperate for the victory and could count on North East lad Johnson to net the equaliser.
win was much needed and should have been recorded but after 89 minutes of tedious football draws brought chants of “Blue Moon” and were still in the hunt for that fourth spot.
Wasn’t called into action on a regular basis. No chance with goal.
Defensively off the pace and his crossing was very poor.
One of his poorest performances. Torrid time from Jones.
Fared better than most defenders but not at his best.
Injured early on.
Was switched regularly as usual but didn’t look as comfortable.
Started slowly but picked up in the second half. Not at his destroying best.
Failed to offer anything of high importance either defensively or going forward.
Looked sluggish and failed to take on the opposition. Had a great opportunity which he spurned.
Tried and Tried, mainly in vain. Little went his way in a poor afternoon.
Non-existent for most of the afternoon. Failed to perform at his usual high standard.
Put himself about and had the ball in dangerous positions. However, failed to capitalise against a poor opposition.
Strange Sub and often looked off the pace. Made some crucial assists.
Despite the least time on the pitch he was the most influential. After a dazzling run previously, he scored a fantastic goal to grab a point.