FABIO Borini picked up more than HALF the votes from fans for the Black Cats’ 2013-14 Goal of the Season in our Big Sunderland Survey.
But the votes polled for the Italian striker were spread across THREE separate goals.
The on-loan Liverpool forward took control of the top three spots for goal of the season thanks to his brilliance against Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final, against West Brom at the Stadium of Light in May and against Newcastle United, also on home turf in October.
Borini’s goal against City, of course, came on the highest stage, against the team that would be crowned Premier League champions two months later.
It was also scored against one of the best defenders the Premier League has had to offer in recent years: Vincent Kompany.
The opening goal of the Wembley showdown came when Adam Johnson chipped a ball over the top for the striker to chase, Kompany failed to clear and Borini nipped in striker the ball past keeper Costel Pantilimon.
It was a fabulous goal and it sent the tens of thousands of SAFC fans at Wembley into ecstasy, but it was only runner-up in our goal of the season question.
Borini’s goal against West Brom in the last week of the season was probably recalled with such affection because it was a special goal which all but confirmed the Sunderland had completed the Great Escape.
The Italian picked up the ball in the middle of the West Brom half and steered it to Seb Larsson before continuing his run to goal with the Swede dinking the ball over the top of the Albion defence for Borini, marginally onside to drive home with a waist-high volley.
It was another fine goal, but it finished third in our list.
And that left Borini’s spectacular strike against the Magpies at the Stadium of Light weigh out in front as Sunderland’s clear winner of the goal of the season question.
In fact, that goal attracted almost twice as many votes as the runner-up and no surprise really.
There are some goals that stayed etched on your mind’s eye and Borini’s late winner was one such goal coming in a game where Sunderland had led through an early Steven Fletcher goal which was cancelled out by a Mathieu Debuchy equaliser just before the hour.
Remember. this was Sunderland’s ninth league game of the season and they went into it with only one point.
The Black Cats had played well but seemed destined to have to share the spoils when the ball bobbled out of Jozy Altidore’s feet, 25 yards from goal, five minutes from time.
As the ball ran loose, there looked to be nothing on, but, for the first time in the season, Borini showed Sunderland fans what he could do, racing forward to drive a thunderbolt into Tim Krul’s top left-hand corner.
For the statisticians, it took 0.74 seconds from 24 yards from boot to net with the ball flashing past the Dutch keeper at 69.5mph.
It also shot Sunderland fans out of their seats and several on to the pitch to celebrate with the goalscorer. It was one of the most spectacular and dramatic winners of a derby you will ever see and it was not wonder it polled so many votes.
It wasn’t the only great goal of the campaign though.
Sunderland did not score goals regularly enough – just 41 in 38 games – but they scored some crackers.
In fourth place in our poll was Connor Wickham’s second strike against Manchester City at the Etihad in April, from Emmanuele Giaccherini’s pass, which put Sunderland 2-1 up as the Great Escape began.
Narrowly behind that goal in terms of votes was Adam Johnson’s superb strike at Fulham in January from a wonderful Ki Sung-Yueng pass.
Craig Gardner’s thunderous volley in the FA Cup against Southampton predictably attracted plenty of votes, as did Phil Bardsley’s equally emphatic late goal in the Capital One Cup semi-final second leg at Manchester United.
Giaccherini’s classy finish in the 4-0 home league win over Cardiff City after good work by Wickham and Borini was affectionately remembered, as was Lee Cattermole’s shot from distance against Spurs, the midfielder’s only goal of the season and first for the club.
But perhaps surprisingly polling a large number of votes was Jack Colback’s goal against the Magpies at St James’s Park.
That goal attracted enough votes to put it into sixth place overall and probably underlined just how fine that win on Tyneside turf felt to the fans.