Manchester City 2 Sunderland 2

Published:
by Stuart Vose

Black Cats cruelly denied after Wickham double.

Only a late, late equaliser denied Sunderland all three points as Connor Wickham netted a double at title-chasing Manchester City.

Despite falling behind to an early goal from Fernandinho, Sunderland were on top for considerable spells and fashioned three excellent chances to equalise in the first period.

The leveller they craved did eventually arrive via a 73rd-minute close-range finish from Wickham, who bagged an emphatic second goal seven minutes from time.

But Samir Nasri – a scorer against Sunderland in the Capital One Cup final – broke the visitors' hearts again when he forced the ball home just a minute from time to seal a point for the hosts.

The away side arguably deserved more as they recovered from the blow of falling behind early on to create much the better chances and produced some free-flowing football to put City on the back foot.

Wickham capped an excellent performance with his pair of goals having endured a titanic tussle with the experienced Vincent Kompany and Martin Demechelis.

Injuries and suspensions saw Gus Poyet shuffle his pack ahead of the game, with Seb Larsson and Santiago Vergini starting in place of the injured Ki Sung-Yueng and defender Phil Bardsley, who served the first game of a two-match ban.

And Poyet's side had to come from behind as City cashed in on their first attack to take the lead two minutes in.

Sergio Aguero won possession midway inside the visitors' half and Alvaro Negredo let his pass run into the path of Fernandinho, who slotted home one-on-one with Vito Mannone.

Advantage City – but Sunderland had two chances to level inside the first 15 minutes with both falling to skipper John O'Shea.

First the defender got his head to an inswinging free-kick only to see the effort drop wide, before he got on the end of a corner to nod onto the roof of the net.

Sunderland were dominating and were inches away from capitalising on 18 minutes when Fabio Borini saw a gilt-edged chance go begging.

Adam Johnson's superb lofted through-ball saw the frontman beat the offside trap, but the on-loan Liverpool man planted his angled shot narrowly past the far post.

Borini then fired wide on the break before Johnson curled off-target, but Sunderland just couldn't make their advantage in terms of chances count.

City were largely ineffectual, with errant efforts from Aleksandar Kolarov and Nasri their only half-chances as the home crowd grew increasingly restless.

Negredo threatened at the start of the second half when he headed over, but again City struggled to gain traction up against a stubborn Sunderland defence.

Sub Stevan Jovetic, introduced just before the hour, pepped up the hosts' attack, showing some neat skill on the edge of the box to force a neat save from Mannone before blasting a flying volley over the top.

Seeking to force the issue, Poyet introduced Emanuele Giaccherini and Nacho Scocco off the bench with 22 minutes remaining, with the pair replacing Seb Larsson and Borini.

Jack Colback came agonisingly close to an equaliser four minutes later when he raced onto Johnson's feed only to be denied by a good save from Joe Hart.

But the visitors grabbed a deserved leveller just a minute later with the best move of the match – with the two substitutes playing vital roles.

Scocco advanced down the left before teeing up the overlapping Giaccherini, whose made-to-measure cross was tapped in by Wickham, storming in unmarked.

City sub Edin Dzeko wasted a good chance when he blasted a Kolarov cross wide at the near post, and the hosts were made to pay when Wickham struck his second goal of the game in fine style seven minutes from the end.

Giaccherini played a lovely ball into the path of the frontman, who had peeled off into space, and Wickham blasted his shot inside the near post before Hart had time to react.

But the three points just weren't to be as Sunderland were denied in the cruellest of circumstances just a minute from time.

Mannone – whose contributions this season are undoubted – got his body behind Nasri's drive from 12 yards but couldn't prevent the ball from rolling fractionally out of his reach and agonisingly over the line.

City stepped up a gear as they looked for a winner, and Nasri should have done better when he blazed over from a central position in stoppage time with the goal at his mercy, opting for power rather than placement.

And so the points were shared – but battling Sunderland arguably deserved all three.

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Team Sheet

Hart
1
Demichelis
26
Kompany
4
Yellow Zabaleta
5
Kolarov
13
Milner
7
García Fernández
14
Luiz Rosa (Rodwell)
25
Nasri
8
Agüero (Jovetic)
16
Negredo (Dzeko)
9
Mannone
25
O'Shea
16
Alonso Yellow
28
Brown
5
Vergini
27
Borini (Scocco) Yellow
31
Colback
14
Larsson (Giaccherini)
7
Cattermole Yellow
33
Johnson
11
Wickham
10

Substitutes

Pantilimon
30
Clichy
22
Richards
2
Dzeko
10
Rodwell
17
Lescott
6
Jovetic
35
Altidore
17
Agnew
42
Giaccherini
23
Ba
22
Mavrias
35
Scocco
30
Ustari
32