Sunderland AFC 1-1 Coventry City
Sunderland returned to Sky Bet Championship action with a point on Sunday, as Coventry City struck late on at the Stadium of Light.
The roof was well and truly raised just 12 minutes into the game, as Jack Clarke announced his return to Wearside with a well-taken header at the back post.
Jonathan Panzo struck the woodwork from range before the break, but the Black Cats were good value for their lead at the interval.
That trend continued following the restart and Elliot Embleton fired over, although Coventry did edge their way back into proceedings and Matt Godden should have equalised on 53 minutes.
With six minutes on the clock, Viktor Gyokeres made no such mistake and his thumping finish ensured the opening-day spoils were shared.
Sunderland started on the front foot at an electric Stadium of Light, with Ross Stewart mustering the first effort on target inside the opening five minutes.
A sea of red and white greeted the players upon exiting the tunnel and the noise levels were cranked up to 11 on 12 minutes, as the Lads took the lead.
Brilliant and typically tenacious wing play from Gooch engineered the opportunity and Clarke did the rest, heading home at the back post following a pinpoint delivery from the American.
The summer signing from Tottenham Hotspur almost grabbed his second midway through the first half, but this time Simon Moore was on hand to deny the winger.
Coventry’s best chance of the first 45 came when Panzo struck the crossbar from 30 yards, as the Lads secured a deserved lead at the break.
Neil’s men continued to threaten after the interval and a scintillating counter-attack almost sliced open the visitors, but ended when Elliot Embleton curled over the top.
Pressure from City led to a glorious opening in front of the Roker End moments later, but Godden struck wide with the goal at his mercy.
Two chances fell to Stewart before the hour mark, but Moore produced a one-handed save and alert defending denied the striker at the near post from the resulting corner.
Gyokeres had the final say, slamming a 25-yard dart beyond Anthony Patterson to ensure Coventry returned south with a point in tow.
Sunderland AFC: Patterson, Gooch, Ballard, Batth, Cirkin, Evans, Neil, Embleton (O'Nien 61), Pritchard (Roberts 79), Clarke, Stewart.
Subs not used: Bass, Wright, Alese, Simms, Hume.
Coventry City: Moore, Panzo, Hyam, McFadzean (Tavares 73), Eccles (Dabo 73), Sheaf, Allen (Palmer 62), Hamer, Bidwell, Gyokeres, Godden (Walker 73.
Subs not used: Wilson, Rose, Doyle.