Sunderland edge Bristol City in five-goal thriller

Sunderland edge Bristol City in five-goal thriller

Everton loanee Ellis Simms marked his debut with two goals as Sunderland gained their first three-point haul since returning to the Sky Bet Championship with a 3-2 win at Bristol City.

The striker netted inside four minutes, firing low past Dan Bentley from 20 yards after Ross Stewart had won a tackle on the edge of the box.

City were level in the 10th minute, Andreas Weimann collecting a Zak Vyner pass inside the area and making space to turn and shoot home from a central position.

The hosts went in front six minutes after the break when Chris Martin bundled in a Weimann cross from the right.

However, Simms was on target again two minutes later, shooting low through Bentley’s legs from 10 yards, before Stewart headed the winner from Alex Pritchard’s 72nd minute cross to leave the home side with no points to show for their first two matches.

Ellis Simms (L) scored twice on his debut for Sunderland

City lost midfielder Matty James to an injury in the warm-up. Han-Noah Massengo took his place, with Cameron Pring coming in on the bench, while Sunderland boss Alex Neil brought in Simms for Elliot Embleton, who was named among the substitutes.

A crowd of 24,543 witnessed a fast, open first half, with both teams looking dangerous going forward.

Having quickly equalised, City had a good chance to go in front in the 12th minute when Jay Dasilva shot wide from an Alex Scott pass.

Sunderland had another narrow escape in the 32nd minute, with Jack Clarke clearing a Martin shot off the line after more good work from teenager Scott, playing just behind the strikers.

However, the visitors also threatened and Simms might have done better when volleying over just before the break, after finding space behind Vyner on the right of City’s back-three.

Sunderland finished the half strongly, Bentley reacting smartly to keep out Corry Evans’ well-struck volley from 25 yards after a corner had been headed clear.

The second period began like the first, with both sides finding the back of the net, with Simms second goal scored in front of the massed ranks of travelling fans.

Sunderland got on top and Bentley had to save and deny Simms a hat-trick when Clarke’s ghosted past Vyner to cross low from the left.

City boss Nigel Pearson reacted by sending on Timm Klose for the struggling Vyner and Kane Wilson for right wing-back Mark Sykes.

It made no difference as Stewart deservedly put the Black Cats in front. But it took a brilliant block by defender Dan Ballard to stop Scott levelling with 14 minutes remaining.

Klose shot over from distance and Martin fired wide from a Joe Williams cross as the visitors sought a leveller – but it was too little too late to make up for a fragile City defensive effort.