Blues back in the top six after goals galore at Portman Road
Town turned on the style to sweep past pre-season promotion favourites Sunderland in a thrilling encounter at Portman Road.
Martyn Waghorn gave Blues an early lead but the Black Cats were level inside 10 minutes thanks to Billy Jones’ header in a sign of what was to come.
Jordan Spence headed his second goal in Town colours to put Blues back in front at the break and then Mick McCarthy’s side notched up the quality again with a sublime touch from Waghorn setting up Bersant Celina for his first goal on home soil.
David McGoldrick grabbed his sixth goal of the season, forcing the ball in from Waghorn’s cross to put Town in total command but Aiden McGeady gave the visitors a lifeline midway through the half.
More magic from the mercurial McGoldrick wrapped up the points though late on, the Republic of Ireland striker weaving past three challenges before sending Grant Ward in on goal and he finished superbly.
Celina came in for his first League start for Town in one of two changes to the side that played so well at Leeds without reward, Waghorn the other with Tristan Nydam and Ward making way.
Former Sunderland striker Waghorn took only six minutes to make his mark, heading in superbly from an equally excellent cross from Joe Garner.
Sunderland were level though three minutes later, another superb delivery - this time from
McGeady’s corner and Jones met it with a firm header at the near post.
Lee Cattermole was wide from the edge of the box, Waghorn much closer with a left foot snap shot held by Jason Steele in a bright start to the game.
Luke Chambers had a header cleared off the line, then Celina whipped in a terrific cross that Steele was at full stretch to punch clear.
Waghorn was inches wide of a second for Town after Blues had carved open the Black Cats’ defence, the striker getting on the end of Jonas Knudsen’s pull-back but the ball screwed past the far post.
James Vaughan was high and wide from the edge of the box as chances continued to come and on 27 minutes Town were ahead again, Waghorn’s corner buried by Spence’s bullet header.
Callum McManaman had a glimpse of goal as Sunderland looked for an immediate response, his shot deflected wide, Garner almost found Tom Adeyemi with a cross, the midfielder then seeing a header from Celina’s cross saved by Steele.
Waghorn spun away from his marker and sent a curler just wide, Bart Bialkowski saving with his feet from McManaman, then more comfortably from the former Wigan player from distance.
Chambers held up Vaughan after the Black Cats broke, while at the other end Celina’s shot squirmed away from Steele and Jones had to hack clear off the line as Town finished the half on top.
Bialkowski produced a terrific save from Cattermole’s close range header as the second-half got underway, Garner a foot wide with a right foot strike moments later with Sunderland then forced into a change with the injured Marc Wilson replaced by John O’Shea.
The Blue Army were on their feet on 55 minutes and rightly so, a flowing move culminated in an outrageous flick by Waghorn into Celina’s path and he made no mistake with a left foot finish.
Town were in dreamland on the hour, Waghorn the provider again, McGoldrick the finisher at the second attempt to put clear daylight between the teams and raise the decibel level at Portman Road.
Sunderland reduced the arrears six minutes later and again in spectacular style, McGeady finding the top corner from 20 yards.
Town made a double change 15 minutes from time with Nydam and Ward replacing Celina and Waghorn. McGeady went close with a free-kick, Knudsen clearing from Cattermole as the Sunderland skipper got in on goal and the Black Cats pressed until the end but two minutes from time Ward grabbed his first goal of the season after great work by McGoldrick to send Blues back into the top six in style.
Town: Bialkowski, Iorfa, Spence, Chambers, Knudsen, Waghorn (Ward 74), Skuse, Adeyemi, Celina (Nydam 74), McGoldrick (Sears 90), Garner. Subs not used: Crowe, Connolly, Bru, Kenlock. Booked: Nydam.
Sunderland: Steele, Jones, Oviedo (Gooch 57), Cattermole, Vaughan, McManaman (Honeyman 66), McGeady, Matthews, Kone, Gibson, Wilson (O’Shea 50). Subs not used: Ruiter, N’Dong, Browning, Asoro. Booked: Vaughan, McGeady.