Sheff Wed 1-1 Sunderland - 16-Aug-2017 : Match Report
Sunderland's Sky Bet Championship credentials were put to the test but they emerged with credit after a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday.
After a horrible campaign last year, and a pre-season littered with problems, the Black Cats were not fancied to be much of a threat on their return to the second tier, but under the guidance of streetwise Simon Grayson they took four points from their opening two games.
They looked like following up their win at Norwich on Saturday with another impressive three points at Hillsborough after George Honeyman's sweet fourth-minute strike and 70 minutes of control.
But David Jones' stunning 30-yard drive brought Wednesday level and then the Owls launched an onslaught, with Gary Hooper hitting the crossbar.
Sunderland somehow held on, though, and will be delighted to leave South Yorkshire with a point and their unbeaten record in tact, while also denying the Owls a first win.
It had been the perfect start for Grayson's men as they needed only four minutes to go ahead - and three of those had seen Wednesday right-back Jack Hunt receive treatment.
While Hunt was still off the pitch, Aiden McGeady found space down the left and with Owls goalkeeper Keiren Westwood recklessly charging out, he squared for Honeyman who drilled home after composing himself.
Wednesday, who again left Fernando Forestieri out of their squad, did offer some response, but only had a stabbed Sam Winnall effort that Jason Steele easily saved to show for it.
And it was Sunderland who had two great chances to extend their lead, but Lewis Grabban put a free header wide from a good position while Brendan Galloway shot straight at Westwood when things opened up for him in the penalty area.
The second half took time to come to life, but the Black Cats had another chance to go further in front when James Vaughan blazed wide from 16 yards.
And when Wednesday rallied the visitors were punished, with Jones levelling the scores in sublime fashion. Picking up a loose ball 30 yards out, he unleashed an unstoppable drive that sailed into the top corner to open his Owls account in style.
That was the trigger for a late siege on the Sunderland goal as Carlos Carvalhal's side desperately pushed for their first three points of the season.
Jordan Rhodes sent a header flying over, while Hooper was somehow denied in a goalmouth scramble before he sent a looping volley against the woodwork.
For the majority of this game Sunderland looked like recording back-to-back away league wins for the first time since January and February 2014, but when the dust settles on this one, they might just see it as a valuable point.