Hull City kick-off the 2020/21 campaign with a trip to Sunderland in the Carabao Cup on Saturday for what will be the 44th meeting between the two clubs in all competitions.
The Tigers trail in the head-to-head statistics with 14 wins compared to the hosts’ tally of 22, with the Black Cats winning the one and only meeting between the two sides in the League Cup – a 2-1 success in the third round of the competition back in November 1961.
Six of City’s 14 wins have come in the north east – with a first-ever away win over Sunderland being a 3-1 win at Roker Park in December 1959 courtesy of a Dave King brace and a further strike from R Shiner.
Goals from Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic secured a 2-0 win at the Stadium of Light in February 2014, but we’re looking back to another top-flight success on Wearside – one that ensured a very merry Christmas for all of a black and amber persuasion later that year.
It was on Boxing Day that Steve Bruce’s side ended a ten-game winless run after coming from behind to register a 3-1 win – and they had to do it the hard way after falling behind in the opening 30 seconds!
Adam Johnson was the man to capitalise on a defensive mix-up between Curtis Davies and Allan McGregor, latching onto the centre-back’s back pass before slipping an angled shot past McGregor from close-range.
Sunderland created chances to increase their lead before the break but the Tigers took full advantage of their failure to convert those opportunities by levelling the scores just past the half-hour mark. Gaston Ramirez was given time after rounding John O’Shea to shoot from fully 30 yards and the Uruguayan’s left-footed effort took a large bounce in front of Costel Pantilimon before finding the corner of the net.
The Black Cats had two strong penalty appeals for handball – against Alex Bruce and Stephen Quinn – turned down by referee Andre Marriner before the break – and were left further frustrated just six minutes into the second half when James Chester put the Tigers ahead, guiding home a powerful header from a Ramirez corner.
Bruce’s side had scored just twice in nine games heading into the clash – and added a fully deserved third goal of the afternoon deep into stoppage-time to complete a dominant display following the restart. Nikica Jelavic was the man to add his name to the scoresheet, collecting Ahmed Elmohamady’s pass before sprinting clear and beating Pantilimon with a confident finish.
It was a result that left Bruce a happy man: “After that terrible start, it would have been very easy for us to capitulate. But instead, the best team won at a canter, it was total domination from us in the second half.
“That was arguably as well as we’ve played this season. There were seven players out there who were the mainstay of the team when we got promoted, and they’ve showed great spirit.
“There were a couple of handballs and of course the crowd are calling for a penalty, but the referee was spot on. I’m sure Gus Poyet will say the opposite. But when the ball hits you from half a yard what can you do? The referee deserves a pat on the back because you’ve got 40,000 Sunderland fans calling for a penalty.
“It’s always nice to come here and win. With the stick I get it’s maybe a little bit sweeter than if you get beat. We’ve been blighted by a little bit of loss of form and injuries. It’s been difficult and it’s still going to be difficult. Some of the injuries are long term but hopefully, this result will give us a huge lift.”