Rowell Report: Ji whizz – so many great games against Man City

Ex-Sunderland footballer Gary Rowell
Ex-Sunderland footballer Gary Rowell
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SUNDERLAND versus Manchester City is a fixture that has thrown up some great games over the years.

My favourite game that I watched at Roker Park was the never-to-be-forgotten FA Cup tie in 1973 against City on Sunderland’s road to Wembley.

There was a last game of the season win against them in the 80s that kept us up and of course the first league game at the Stadium of Light was a win against Manchester City.

Over recent seasons, we have defied the odds to beat City three times in a row at home.

And of those three games, the one that stands out for me has got to be when Ji Dong-won scored his late winner.

Individually, City were far superior to our players but a patched-up Sunderland team with a goalkeeper in a mask, kept them out and when exhaustion was setting in they found a bit extra to score a winning goal with virtually the last kick of the game.

The scenes that followed Ji’s winner were similar to the ones following Fabio Borini’s derby winning goal as team and fans celebrated as one.

That game was truly inspiring and has got to be one of the highlights, if not THE highlight of Martin O’Neill’s time as Sunderland manager as he succeeded in getting every last ounce of effort out of his players.

O’Neill’s team were decimated by injuries that day, especially in defence and Mignolet was only half-fit and I remember when the team-sheet came out, thinking it would be a miracle just to keep the score down.

Not only did we do that but unbelievably we kept a clean sheet and that, as much as Ji’s goal, was responsible for us claiming all three points.

That game proved that in a one-off game, anything can happen, the more talented team does not always win and sometimes the team that wants it more can triumph.