Belfast Telegraph

Toffees claim controversial point

Leighton Baines' hotly-disputed penalty handed Everton a 1-1 draw as they continued their stranglehold on Sunderland.

The full-back converted from the spot six minutes after the restart with referee Howard Webb awarding a spot kick when Leon Osman had gone down in the box, although replays suggested the midfielder had kicked the ground.

Jack Colback had earlier given the Black Cats a 26th-minute lead when his deflected shot handed him a first senior goal for the club.

Everton started well and Tim Cahill failed to make the most of two early chances for the visitors while Louis Saha was equally wasteful with his opportunity.

Sunderland then lost defender Titus Bramble to injury in the 21st minute that saw midfielder Colback introduced and a major reshuffle by O'Neill.

However, within five minutes of his arrival, the newcomer put Sunderland ahead with a shot that clipped Sylvain Distin before flying past the helpless Tim Howard.

That sparked the Black Caps into life after their slow start but they were unable to add to their lead before Everton got themselves level just after half-time, although they did so in controversial circumstances.

Osman was allowed to work his way into the penalty area, where he went down as Wes Brown and Lee Cattermole closed in on him.

Referee Howard Webb took his time, but eventually pointed to the spot, although replays suggested that neither Sunderland man had touched the midfielder and that he had actually kicked the ground.

But as the home fans bayed, the nerveless Baines smashed his spot-kick high to Keiren Westwood's left to level to earn his side a point.

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