Swans cancel out Black Cats
Entertaining encounter in South Wales ends all square
Last Updated: 01/09/12 5:32pm
Steven Fletcher: Celebrating with fellow Sunderland new boy Adam Johnson
Steven Fletcher bagged a brace on his Premier League debut, but a clash with Swansea which included a bit of everything ended 2-2.
The Black Cats' new £12million frontman offered an early return on the club's sizeable summer investment, but saw each of his efforts cancelled out by Wayne Routledge and Michu.
Swansea were reduced to 10 men late on when Chico saw red, but the spoils would be shared in an entertaining encounter.
It took 40 minutes for the Liberty Stadium clash to get going, with a serious injury to Swans full-back Neil Taylor leaving the game and atmosphere pretty flat.
Fletcher was the man to light the touch paper, with the former Wolves striker capitalising on a terrible mistake from Ashley Williams to calmly stroke the ball into the bottom corner.
The hosts restored parity in the first minute of stoppage-time at the end of the first half, with some slick interplay allowing Routledge to rattle a close-range effort past Simon Mignolet.
Sunderland entered the interval holding a narrow advantage, though, as Fletcher, with a helping hand from Chico, bundled home a Sebastian Larsson free-kick.
Swansea hit back again on 66 minutes, as summer signing Michu recorded his fourth goal for the club with a powerful header from Jonathan de Guzman's cross.
Chico was given his marching orders five minutes later after catching Louis Saha with a high boot, but Sunderland were unable make the most of their numerical advantage.
Buoyed by their excellent recent form, Swansea started with purpose and Routledge had a penalty appeal turned away while Dyer had a shot saved by Simon Mignolet.
But they were dealt a terrible blow by Taylor's injury after 16 minutes.
The Team GB left-back required prolonged treatment and was given oxygen as he received treatment on his ankle.
The home crowd were furious that Craig Gardner was not punished over the incident by referee Roger East, making his Premier League debut, but there appeared to be no malice from the Sunderland player.
John O'Shea did little to help matters by choosing to try to put his viewpoint across to spectators near the incident.
The atmosphere was muted following Taylor's departure although the hosts continued to press, with Dyer again being denied by Mignolet.
Swansea had benefited from defensive errors in their wins over QPR and West Ham, but they were hurt by a mistake of their own five minutes before the break.
Williams' stubbed his back pass into the ground and Fletcher ran in on goal to despatch a superb low finish beyond Michel Vorm.
Swansea levelled as six minutes of stoppage time began. Dyer and Routledge, who have started the campaign brilliantly, linked again as the former's scooped pass allowed the latter to flash home a volley.
But parity did not last to the interval as Larsson's free-kick evaded everyone apart from Fletcher, who tapped home at the back post to give the visitors a half-time lead.
Mignolet pushed away a Dyer volley after more excellent build up play from the hosts, while Leon Britton volleyed over from a rehearsed corner routine shortly after the break.
The ill-feeling between the sides had been bubbling under the surface since Taylor's injury, but Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill was apoplectic when Chico escaped punishment for a studs-up lunge on James McClean with the home side then ignoring the stricken player by carrying on despite the Wearsiders urging them to put the ball out.
Mignolet did brilliantly to get down to a Jonathan de Guzman free-kick moments later after Gardner, already on a booking for a first-half tackle on Routledge, fouled Danny Graham.
Michu came close to adding to his tally as his header into the ground from De Guzman's cross bounced up and just over the bar.
But the same combination found the leveller on 66 minutes, De Guzman's delivery was again pinpoint and Michu's powerful header gave Mignolet no chance.
Swansea's comeback efforts were stymied when Chico then saw red for a wild high-footed challenge that grazed substitute Saha's head.Despite the numerical disadvantage Swansea dominated the final 18 minutes, but could not find the winner that would have taken them top of the Premier League.
|Swansea City||Team Statistics||Sunderland|
|1||1st Half Goals||2|
|7||Shots on Target||2|
|5||Shots off Target||1|
|59.1||1st Half Poss.||40.9|
|69.1||2nd Half Poss.||30.9|
Barclays Premier League
|16||West Bromwich Albion||16||15|
|17||West Ham United||16||14|