Bristol City 3-3 Sunderland: Black Cats earn point with stunning comeback
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 10/02/18 7:04pm
Two second-half own goals allowed struggling Sunderland to come from 3-0 down at the break and take a point from a 3-3 draw with Bristol City.
First-half goals from Aden Flint and a Famara Diedhiou double looked to have the home side coasting in the Sky Bet Championship match at Ashton Gate.
But Josh Brownhill and Marlon Pack inadvertently found the back of their own net either side of an Aiden McGeady strike to produce a surprise result.
Flint capitalised on shocking defending to give City a fifth-minute lead. The big centre-back was allowed to control a Pack free-kick inside the box, take a touch towards goal and fire home unchallenged from six yards.
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It was 2-0 on 31 minutes as Diedhiou ran clear onto a Bobby Reid through-ball. His first shot was blocked by goalkeeper Lee Camp, but the ball broke for the striker to hammer it into the roof of the net from close range.
Sunderland were wide open and conceded a third six minutes later. A swift City break out of defence ended with Ryan Kent's low cross from the right being slid home by the stretching Diedhiou.
Some visiting fans had seen enough, while others who had made the 600-mile round trip to watch their team chanted: "You're not fit to wear the shirt."
They were given something to cheer 20 minutes from time when Lee Cattermole's header came back off the crossbar and the ball hit Brownhill, who inadvertently knocked it over the line for an own goal.
Substitute McGeady set up an unexpectedly tense finish when he shot low past goalkeeper Frank Fielding from Cattermole's 81st minute free-kick.
And the visiting fans were in dreamland when substitute Kazenga LuaLua's low cross from the byline went in off Pack at the start of stoppage time, with City head coach Lee Johnson apoplectic.
Diedhiou had only just missed out on a first-half hat-trick, failing by inches to make contact with a superb low ball across the box from Reid.
Joe Bryan sent a curling shot just over from the edge of the box before the half-time whistle provided some breathing space for Chris Coleman's overrun team.
Sunderland began the second half well and Ashley Fletcher saw a well-placed header from Joel Asoro's cross blocked by City skipper Bailey Wright a couple of yards out, before Ovie Ejaria fired narrowly over from distance.
Diedhiou had the ball in the net again three minutes before the hour mark, but was judged to have put it there with his hand, rather than his head, by referee James Linington - who showed a yellow card.
But after McGeady's goal Fielding had to make an outstanding double save to deny first substitute Ethan Robson, then Fletcher - the latter looking certain to score when the keeper parried Robson's deflected shot into his path.
Lee Johnson: "I blame myself partly for not sending on an extra midfield player in the second half and killing off the game. But I felt there were more goals for us. In the end we have been lazy as a team in our defending and I find that very difficult to understand.
"We should have had a penalty at 3-1 up when Jamie Paterson clearly had his shirt pulled when one on one with the goalkeeper. But I am not blaming that. We have played some fantastic football, but not winning football and that is a concern. Some of the players looked tired at the end, which is something I have to look at. It's two points dropped, but none of our rivals are on great runs at the moment."
Chris Coleman: "At 3-0 down it looked like being four or five and I am thinking here we go again. We deserved to be booed off at half-time by fans who had travelled so far. I didn't roast the lads at half-time. There were a few home truths (but) what happened in the second half was totally down to the players.
"I'm not taking any of the credit. The reaction from them was absolutely magnificent and that's what we will concentrate on going forward. The clubs that get out of relegation trouble will not necessary have the best teams. They will need a battling spirit and that's what we showed today. I can't recall coming back from 3-0 down to get a draw as a manager or a player."