Stephane Sessegnon secured a point for Sunderland against Fulham
By Graeme Bailey - Tweet me: @graemebailey. Last Updated: 03/03/13 8:26am
Stephane Sessegnon: Won point for Black Cats
Sunderland came from two goals behind to claim a 2-2 draw with Fulham at the Stadium of Light.
The Black Cats found themselves two down inside 35 minutes courtesy of a Dimitar Berbatov penalty and a first goal in English football for German international full-back Sascha Riether.
But the home side battled back and soon pulled one back via their own spot-kick with Craig Gardner slotting home, before finally levelling matters with 20 minutes left as Man of the Match Stephane Sessegnon drilled the ball home from the edge of the box.
Best of the Match:
- Man of the Match: Stephane Sessegnon was excellent for Sunderland and claimed the equaliser. A mention also for Ashkan Dejagah who was impressive for Fulham
- Save of the Match: Simon Mignolet did not have the greatest day but his stop from Berbatov which led to equaliser was huge.
- Goal of the Match: Sessegnon's goal was a very good finish from the edge of the box.
- Move of the Match: Fulham almost scored a goal of the season contender as Ruiz lobbed the ball into path of Berbatov, who saw his shot saved.
- Talking point: Are Sunderland still embroiled in the relegation battle?
The draw brings an end to Sunderland's terrible run of three successive defeats, whilst the point puts Fulham into the top half.
Sunderland had started the game well and threatened inside the opening minute as John O'Shea headed a corner wide, and it was the home side's wide-men Adam Johnson and Sessegnon who looked a threat.
But it was Fulham's counter-attacking which hit Sunderland hard and they were suddenly two up within the opening 35 minutes.
The opener came as Berbatov fed Ashkan Dejagah in the box - he looked to take on Gardner, who clipped the Iranian - it took referee Mark Halsey a little longer than normal but he did point to the spot. Berbatov stepped up to slot home in his archetypal cool manner.
Dejagah then spurned a great chance on the half-hour to make it 2-0 as he broke clear, but just minutes later he created the second.
A Sunderland corner was headed away by Berbatov, Dejagah broke at pace and exchanged passes with Ruiz before firing a cross into the six-yard box - Mignolet could only parry and an unmarked Riether was on hand to convert his first-ever goal for the club.
The Sunderland fans were furious, but they were buoyed just seconds later when they found themselves back in the game via their own penalty. Philippe Senderos pulled back Danny Graham in the box - he surprisingly avoided any card, but Gardner stepped up to fire home.
Graham then wasted a glorious chance just minutes after the re-start when he fired straight at Mark Schwarzer after the ball fell for him just ten yards from goal.
Johnson and Sessegnon continued to be the home side's main threat and they were both involved as Sunderland levelled with 20 minutes left.
Fulham almost produced a goal of the season contender as Damien Duff, John Arne Riise and Ruiz combined, who in turn lobbed a brilliant ball to Berbatov - whose shot was saved by Mignolet.
Sunderland countered through Sessegnon. He fed Johnson - whose cross deflected off Senderos and into the path of his team-mate, who drilled the ball home from the edge of the box.
Sunderland pushed hard late on for the winner, but Fulham held on for the point they deserved.
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Sunderland v Fulham
Paolo Di Canio refused to criticise his new side following Sunderland's 1-0 home defeat by Fulham.
Martin Jol says that Fulham's 1-0 win at Sunderland was the 'perfect' way to start the season.
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill saluted Stephane Sessegnon after his strike rescued a precious point against Fulham.