Fletcher double earns point.
Sunderland picked up their second away point of the season in a lively encounter with Swansea City.
New signing Steven Fletcher had a dream start to his Black Cats career, notching two goals in his first league start.
A frenetic spell in the closing 10 minutes of the first half saw the striker score a goal either side of Wayne Routledge’s 46th-minute strike to give Sunderland a 2-1 lead at the break, before Swansea’s own man of the moment, Michu, grabbed a second half equaliser for the home side.
Fletcher and fellow new boy Adam Johnson both made their league debuts for Sunderland against City after impressing in the midweek Capital One Cup win over Morecambe.
Simon Mignolet returned in goal for Sunderland after sitting out of the cup victory.
The Belgium stopper was tested very early in the game as the home side were quick off the mark with a flurry of chances in the opening quarter.
An injury to Neil Taylor saw the defender stretchered off after a collision with Craig Gardner, however, this didn’t deter the home side as they continued to apply the pressure.
That challenge seemed to set the tone of the game in South West Wales as it panned out to be quite a feisty affair.
Nathan Dyer went close to opening the scoring for Swansea in the 20th minute as he struck from 20 yards out, fortunately for Sunderland, Mignolet was poised and caught the effort.
Sunderland were also forced into making an early substitution just before when David Meyler replaced Lee Cattermole after the skipper picked up a knock.
Despite Swansea dominating the opening period, it was Sunderland who made the breakthrough and kick-started a crazy end to the opening period.
Fletcher capitalised on a slip-up in City’s backline and coolly curled the ball past Michel Vorm and into the bottom corner of the net to open his account for the Black Cats, much to the delight of the packed away end.
Sunderland almost doubled their lead moments later when goalscorer Fletcher teed up McClean, only for the Irishman to sky his shot over the bar.
It didn’t take long for the home side to respond. Just as six minutes of injury time were added to the half, Wayne Routledge latched onto a cross from Michu and pulled Swansea level.
With 50 minutes played there was still time for another goal, as Fletcher doubled his tally and Sunderland’s lead when he bundled Sebastian Larsson’s free kick over the line moments before the half time whistle.
Following the crazy end to the opening period, the frenetic pace continued with Swansea pouring forward in search of an equaliser.
Within minutes of the restart Angel Rangel’s cross deflected off Meyler into the side-netting. Then Leon Britton’s shot from the resulting corner flashed over the top of Mignolet’s goal.
The Belgian was caught off guard following Nathan Dyer’s free kick on the hour mark. Sunderland failed to clear the set-piece and it was Cuellar who cleared the ball off the line after City pinged it around the box.
The home side continued to turn the screw, as midfielder Michu had a header tipped over the bar.
However, the Spaniard would not make the same mistake twice and hit the target with a 66th-minute header to score his fourth goal of the season.
With the scores level, the home side were reduced to 10 men when Chico Flores was shown a straight red card for a challenge on substitute Louis Saha.
Saha had only been on the pitch for a matter of minutes after replacing goalscorer Fletcher, when the studs of the defender seemed to catch the striker on the side of the head.
Swans boss Michael Laudrup changed things around following the Spaniard’s dismissal, introducing Alan Tate and new signing Ki Sung-Yeung in place of goal scorers Wayne Routledge and Michu.
The fresh legs worked in City’s favour as they continued to look for a winning goal.
Rangel was denied in the 85th minute, before Danny Graham and Dyer both had efforts blocked by Mignolet.
However, Sunderland withstood all that the home side could muster and held on to pick up a hard-earned point and remain unbeaten in 2012-13.
- Yellow Williams
- Taylor (Davies)
- Red Flores Moreno
- De Guzmán
- Pérez Cuesta (Ki)
- Routledge (Tate)
- Cattermole (Meyler)
- Gardner Yellow
- Sessegnon (Campbell)
- Fletcher (Saha)