Big selection calls, missed chances and penalty frustration: Exactly how Sunderland's first game of the season played out
Will Grigg was the only player to mis during a high-quality shootout, allowing Hull to edge through a contest in which they had offered little.
Grigg had been left frustrated when an excellent second-half finish was ruled out for offside, Phil Parkinson’s side unable to make the most of a dominant display in which they created all of the chances but were unable to convert them.
If there had been fears that Hull City, in action through much of the summer as they looked to beat the Championship drop, could have the edge in fitness and physicality, they were soon dispelled.
Parkinson had spoken in the build-up of his player’s desperation to get back to competitive action after such a long absence, and it was evident right from the off.
It had been a big call to lead the line with Grigg, a reward for the striker’s lively pre-season after Charlie Wyke had for so much of Parkinson’s tenure been the key figure up front.
The Northern Irishman was into his work with real intent, doing superbly to win an early duel with Jordy De Wijs down the right and break to the byline. Aiden O’Brien did well to control the ball in the box before Max Power was denied only by Josh Emmanuel on the Hull goalline.
Power, interestingly, was pushed further forward than we had been used to before lockdown.
With O’Brien pushing right up alongside Grigg, it was an attacking twist on the 3-4-3 that Parkinson has preferred in 2020.
The Black Cats were dominant through the early stages and should have been ahead when Denver Hume drilled a low cross into the box. Grigg did well to keep the loose ball alive and Chris Maguire was frustrated to miss the target from close range.
Grant McCann’s side looked out of sorts, unable to build any sort of possession and disorganised when defending set pieces.
Luke O’Nien almost capitalised on the latter seventeen minutes in, getting free from a free-kick and heading an effort down towards goal. It took a fine stop from Matt Ingram to prevent the Black Cats from taking a worthy lead.
The partnership between Grigg and O’Brien was showing promising signs and almost yielded a goal when from the slightly more advanced position, Power released Grigg with a smart pass into the left-hand channel. Grigg flashed the ball across the box and O’Brien was just unable to connect as he stretched out a right boot to try and reach the cross.
The visitors saw their momentum further disrupted by an injury to striker Tom Eaves, and O’Brien ought to have taken full advantage as the half-time whistle approached.
Moments before, the Irish forward had almost produced a stunning assist when he spun away from four Hull players in the middle of the pitch, the away defence just managing to recover in time to deny Grigg as he lined up a shot from inside the box.
A sloppy piece play from the away defence soon saw the pitch open up again for Sunderland, Maguire releasing O’Brien with a precise pass. He looked certain to score as he ore down on goal but his effort was poor, dragged comfortably wide of the far post.
In a poor first-half showing, Hull City had produced nothing aside from a couple of weak headers from corners.
The fear was that the Black Cats could rue their missed chances, though they began the second half again the better side as Hume flashed a strong header wide of the far post.
Hull had a brief opening when they broke downfield from a home free-kick, but Lewis-Potter’s pass to Wilks was poor and the chance for a counter-attack was lost.
McCann’s side had steadied considerably, but appeared to benefit from a major slice of luck as the final 20 minutes approached.
Grigg thought he had opened the scoring when turning him a cross from O’Nien after an excellent Sunderland move, but was left irate when he rose to see the linesan had raised his flag for offside. The forward was adamant he had been played on by the Hull defence.
Parkinson reshuffled his attacking options in search of a winner, with Charlie Wyke and Lynden Gooch introduced.
Wyke came close shortly after his introduction, drawing a good low stop from Ingram with an effort from the edge of the area.
The Black Cats had been resolute throughout, with Lee Burge having virtually nothing to do throughout the 90.
Though Grigg had looked to be unlucky when his goal was ruled out, Sunderland’s opponents had been tougher to open up in the latter stages and the penalty shooutout had seemed inevitable towards the end of the contest.
Grigg was the first to step up and was denied by Ingram, who made a good save with his trailing leg after the striker had opted to go down the middle.
There were no errors after that, nine excellent penalties allowing the away side to edge through.
Burge had come close to three of Hull’s efforts, but was unable to deny a series of high-quality finishes.
Sunderland XI: Burge; O’Nien, Willis, Wright, Flanagan, Hume; Power, Dobson; Maguire (Wyke, 75), O’Brien (Gooch, 75), Grigg
Subs: Matthews, Leadbitter, Neil, Wyke, Feeney, Scowen, Gooch
Hull City XI: Ingram; Emmanuel, Burke, De Wijs, Samuelsen; Smallwood, Honeyman, Docherty, Fleming, Wilks, Eaves (Lewis-Potter, 30)
Subs: Cartwright, Batty, Jones, Jones, McLoughlin, Sheaf, Berry
Bookings: Hume, 54 Samuelsen, 90
Grigg (Missed), Power (Scored), O’Nien (Scored), Gooch (Scored), Wyke (Scored)
Wilks (Scored), Smallwood (Scored), Samuelsen (Scored), Honeyman (Scored), Lewis-Potter (Scored)