Belfast Telegraph

Black Cats fight back for point

Nicklas Bendtner and Ahmed Elmohamady secured Sunderland a 2-2 draw after West Brom threatened to pile the pressure on manager Steve Bruce.

Goals from James Morrison and Shane Long within the opening five minutes left the Black Cats in deep trouble.

However, loan signing Bendtner opened his account for the club with 24 minutes gone and Elmohamady did the same two minutes later to snatch a point.

A must-win game in the eyes of many home fans could hardly have started in any more depressing fashion for Bruce when Morrison, one of the smallest men on the pitch, was allowed to meet Chris Brunt's fourth-minute free-kick unchallenged to head home from close range.

Within seconds it was 2-0. Craig Gardner launched himself into a midfield challenge with Youssouf Mulumbu and saw the ball ricochet into the path of striker Long, who took full advantage of a flat-footed home defence to slide the ball past goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and send a chorus of boos echoing around the Stadium of Light.

But Bruce's players belatedly summoned up the will to fight their way out of the mire. They grabbed themselves a lifeline with 24 minutes gone when Sebastian Larsson back-heeled Stephane Sessegnon's pass into Bendtner's path and the Dane fired past keeper Ben Foster with the help of a deflection off Gareth McAuley.

The on-loan Arsenal striker turned provider two minutes later when he crossed for Elmohamady to head home an equaliser.

Having dragged themselves back into the contest, Sunderland had the impetus and went close to taking the lead in injury time when Foster had to beat away Gardner's shot on the turn.

The Black Cats should really have been in front within three minutes of the restart when Larsson floated a free-kick over Jonas Olsson's head to find Wes Brown at the far post - but he headed harmlessly over.

Sunderland were the stronger side in the second half, without ever really threatening to snatch victory.

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