January 1, 2012

Sunderland 1 Manchester City 0: Ji Dong wizz! Korean dragon Stunned Mancini's men at late defeat (7 PHOTOS)


Late show: Sunderland's Ji Dong-Won (left) fires past Joe Hart to stun Manchester City, Roberto Mancini can't watch (circle)  

Ji Dong-won is barely a household name in his own household, and although he has bizarrely become something of a cult figure on Wearside, he has made little impression at Sunderland since his summer arrival from South Korea.

But the striker from Chunnam Dragons wrote his name in the 2012 Barclays Premier League title race after his injury-time winner stunned leaders Manchester City at the  Stadium of Light on Sunday.

Ji had done little right after arriving for the final 12 minutes as a replacement for exhausted on-loan and lone striker Nicklas Bendtner. 

Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill had a word in Ji’s ear just before he played a one-two with Stephane Sessegnon, stumbled round Joe Hart and prodded the ball home. It was the third-last kick of the game.

O’Neill said: ‘I just told him to get in positions to prevent them getting the ball, and maybe get in positions to help us attack them, too.’ 

There were seconds left when Seb Larsson trudged cautiously from his own half to clear another forlorn City attack.

He left the majority of the City players in his wake before almost falling to his knees in the centre circle and leaving Sessegnon to weave past the rest, creating the opening for Ji, who was offside as he took up the ball.

Party time: Ji Dong-Won (left) celebrates after scoring late on against City
‘Marginal,’ said O’Neill. ‘Marginal.’

O’Neill leapt in the air a dozen times after Ji scored. Nearly 40,000 Sunderland fans erupted and Ji led the dancing. Even Larsson raised a gallop to join him.

‘It was a remarkable result,’ said the Sunderland manager. ‘The roar for the winner was deafening and the roar for the final whistle was even better.’

Mancini just headed down the tunnel, leaving assistant David Platt to make the full-time apologies to O’Neill in his absence. ‘Not a problem,’ said O’Neill. ‘I can understand his frustration.’ 

The two men did catch up in the tunnel to shake hands. But, furious at the lack of discipline in the dying minutes which had left Hart exposed, the City boss was also exasperated at his side’s 27 squandered chances.  

Chance: Edin Dzeko spurned this opportunity to hand City the lead (above) before looking dejected (below)


The first came early on from Sunderland-born Adam Johnson, who attempted to replicate his winner in this fixture two seasons ago. This time the ball landed on the top of the net — and that set the tone.

Simon Mignolet was back in the Sunderland goal — because of Keiren Westwood’s illness — wearing a mask to protect his broken nose.
Titanic tussle: Sunderland forward Stephane Sessegnon (left) battles with Gareth Barry
Mignolet looked nervy on aerial challenges, but he was more than equal to a close-range effort from Edin Dzeko, and when he was beaten by Sami Nasri’s low shot, Craig Gardner scrambled back to clear.  

Mignolet punched another corner into the path of Dzeko, making his first start for three weeks, but his rising half-volley crashed against the top of the bar.


O’Neill had already tinkered with his back four due to the absence of four injured defenders, using midfielder Gardner and Jack Colback as full backs, when he suffered another blow with the loss of centre back Wes Brown with a groin strain in the 26th minute. Matt Kilgallon appeared for his first Sunderland game in 18 months.

Blown it: Nicklas Bendtner missed an early chance for Sunderland as Joe Hart saved his effort

Sunderland had their chances before the break, too. In the opening three minutes Bendtner was played through by Sessegnon but the Denmark striker pushed the ball too far past Hart and wasted the opportunity with a weak shot at the spread-eagled England No 1.

Sunderland also finished the half with the final chance — a firm strike from Gardner which cleared the bar — but, apart from another bouncing shot from James McClean on his first Sunderland start, the ball spent most of the first half in the hosts’ defensive quarter.
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