Opportunity knocks, but Bruce is again left gutted

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It was a case of deja vu for Steve Bruce on Saturday as he rued his Sunderland side’s failure to take good opportunities to get a victory which no-one could have complained they had not done enough to deserve.

For the Swans on Saturday, read the Seagulls on Tuesday and the Magpies the previous weekend.

Had Sunderland made the most of the goalscoring chances they had against Swansea, Brighton or Newcastle, they would be facing as stirring a start to the season as their fans had hoped for in the summer.

And Bruce knew on Saturday that, after the Newcastle and Brighton disappointments, Sunderland had failed to take a great opportunity to go into the international break with a creditable four points from three league games.

“It’s not often you come away from home in the Premier League – be it to a newly-promoted side or not – and create half-a-dozen clear-cut chances,” he said.

“If you do that then you know you’ve played well.

“You also know you should, more often than not, win the game. And the fact is that once again this week, our failure to take our chances has cost us.

“We’ve played some very good football in this game, as we have done in our previous games, but we’ve not put the ball in the back of the net.

“The difference between Premier League sides and the rest generally comes down to the quality of finishing – Premier League sides punish you in front of goal if you give them an opportunity – and, at the moment, we’re falling short in that department.”

Bruce knows that an away point and a clean sheet, while normally enough to please supporters, is not enough to assuage the anger and disappointment that has built on Wearside in the wake of a morale-sapping start. “We lost a derby game and we know how disappointed people get with that,” he sighed.

“If we had drawn against Newcastle and lost at Liverpool, I think supporters would not have been that unhappy, but that’s the way things are in the North East and I completely understand it.

“Now we’ve come away from home and got a draw.

“Ultimately, any away point is not a bad one, but we know that won’t be enough for many people because of the expectation we’ve created.

“We’ve got to accept that and strive to make sure we do the very best we can to fulfilling those expectations.”