Football News

Sunderland’s generous defence remains in a league of its own

By Harry Edwards

Published: 17:47, 18 October 2019

Own goals. Even the best teams have seen players scoring past their own goalkeepers.

Some own goals are unfortunate, an unlucky but shot-altering deflection or a rebound that was just too quick for a reaction.

Others are slightly more bizarre; think Manchester City’s Jamie Pollock beautifully flicking the ball over an attacker before heading past his own goalkeeper in 1998, or Lee Dixon lobbing David Seaman for Arsenal against Coventry in 1991.

But while own goals can be common, a team conceding multiple strikes from their players is less so. Unless you’re Sunderland it seems.

In February 2003 Sunderland became the first Premier League team to score three own goals in a single match, falling 3-1 at home to Charlton.

Full-back Stephen Wright opened the scoring against his own side, deflecting Michael Fish’s shot past Thomas Sorensen after 24 minutes. Just five minutes later Sorensen’s save on a shot bounced back past him off Michael Proctor before the striker got his second own goal just moments after as a corner went in off his back.

Speaking after the game, then-Sunderland manager Howard Wilkinson tried to play down the blunders by calling it a monkey off his side’s back, though they would be relegated at the end of the season.

In the following 11-and-a-half years, no team had suffered the fate as Sunderland’s 2003 team, until the Black Cats felt generous once more.

Southampton were the beneficiaries this time around on October 18, 2014 in an 8-0 thrashing. An own goal opened the scoring for the home side with Santiago Vergini volleying wonderfully past Vito Mannone. Southampton had gone 3-0 up by the time of the second own goal, this time Liam Bridcutt putting the ball into his own net after getting his feet in a twist on the line.

The third own goal completed the scoring in the final stages with Patrick van Aanholt sliding the ball into his own net, despite the strike initially being credited to Sadio Mane. Remarkably, Sunderland managed to stave off relegation at the end of that season, thanks to the work of Dick Advocaat.

Squawka is bringing you a Stat of the Day, every day, for 45 days as part of MANarama’s fundraising campaign for Prostate Cancer UK.

You can get involved in MANarama’s campaign by using the #GiveAndGo hashtag on social media and encouraging your friends and family to donate too.

Visit for more information. Click here to donate to the campaign’s Just Giving page.