How goals change games. What looked until added time on Saturday like a poor start to the season by the Black Cats was suddenly transformed completely by a dramatic late penalty winner by Darren Bent. The first half was also high drama and Manchester City ultimately paid a high price for that casual early miss by Carlos Tevez. However satisfying the win was, this was not a siege, and although the result was reminiscent of the 3-1 trouncing of Spurs late last season, the final supremacy this time was provided by a more controlled performance - very encouraging.
The second half showed that Sunderland's new signings have started to bed in really well, especially the impressive Al Muhammadi, whose cross set up the late intervention from Bent for that decisive penalty goal. Mignolet's saves also stood out, and Bramble has clearly settled at the back. But overall it was a great team performance.
A win from City would have seen a stuttering start – with that draw with Birmingham, then the horrible, nobody-showed-up defeat at West Brom, but now the early games have a whole new complexion, with a mid-table position, four goals from Bent and progress in the Carling Cup.
What was even more encouraging was the way The Lads hung on in there to the end on Saturday against the big spenders of the division. As fans we are shown yet again that it takes more than money to build a team, and that is where our club and manager can truly compete this season in the Premiership, with 11 guys out there who will truly sweat blood for each other.
Add another world-class striker, as we may well do with the signing of Ghana's Asamoah Gyan as reported by Soccernet today - http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story?id=819473&sec=transfers&cc=5739, and Sunderland may well be surprising everybody but their fans this season.
©Lars J.S. Knutsen