Sunderland may have left it late but they ensured the Jack Ross era got off to the best possible start – and the dramatic victory left the manager delighted.
Sunderland came from a goal behind at half-time to beat Charlton Athletic 2-1, Josh Maja and Lynden Gooch cancelling out Lyle Taylor’s ninth-minute penalty for the visitors.
Gooch powered home a header in the sixth minute of added-on time at the Stadium of Light to seal a late, dramatic opening day victory, Sunderland’s first in nine years.
It left Ross beaming with pride, though he does have a fresh injury concern after Watford loanee Jerome Sinclair went off with a hamstring injury late on.
Ross said: “Naturally, I am delighted to win the game and to start the season with a win – there is no better way to win a game than that!
“There are easier and less stressful ways, though!
“The euphoria you get as a whole club, staff, supporters and players, it was enjoyable to do it.
“It was a very tough game for us, very competitive.
“I thought our willingness to keep pushing and to try and get something from the game was encouraging, our physicality at the end was encouraging.”
With Sunderland a goal down at the break, Ross switched formation, going from a 4-3-3 system to 3-5-2 with Bryan Oviedo and Gooch as wing-backs.
It worked, with Sunderland a different beast after the break. Watford loanee Jermone Sinclair came on for Luke O’Nien and helped transform Sunderland’s fortunes.
He left the field late on with a hamstring concern which will be assessed, but the Black Cats boss was delighted with his impact.
Ross added: “Credit to Lee Bowyer and Charlton for that [us having to change the system], they played a system they haven’t played often.
“We have played against that pre-season and dealt with it better, we were guilty of taking too many touches. We struggled with that.
“The opening 35 minutes, they were worthy of leading. We finished the half with good momentum, we looked better.
“I had already decided to make that change. The easiest thing would have been to stay with that system. We were keen to get somebody closer to Josh, Jerome did that.
“The players took the information on quickly, the momentum in the latter part we continued with that second half and kept pushing to try and win the game.”
On Sinclair, Ross added: “Sinclair hamstring at the end of the game, so we have to assess that.
“He is a bit frustrated at the moment.
“His impact was good, he is really enjoying it. He has settled in well. He got a nasty cut on his eye which required stitches.
“It’s not the best end for him in that respect but he played a part in a positive result!”