Premier League: Sunderland 2 Fulham 2
By Football News
Sunderland came from two goals down to secure a 2-2 draw at home to Fulham in the English Premier League on Saturday.
Dimitar Berbatov stroked home a controversial penalty to give the visitors the lead at the Stadium of Light, before Sascha Riether's tap-in doubled the advantage.
A spot-kick from Craig Gardner halved the deficit on 37 minutes and Stephane Sessegon completed the comeback, smashing in a low effort from 20 yards out with 20 minutes remaining.
Neither manager made a single change from their previous line-ups as Danny Graham and Steven Fletcher were paired up front from the start for the hosts for the first time in a home game.
Sunderland almost took an early lead as Sessegnon forced a corner in the first minute, but John O'Shea headed Sebastian Larsson's delivery into the side-netting.
After a sustained spell of Sunderland pressure, it was Fulham who took the lead in the 16th minute, albeit in questionable circumstances.
Ashkan Dejagah took a delayed tumble over Craig Gardner's leg, and although contact appeared to be extremely minimal, referee Mark Halsey pointed to the spot and Berbatov slotted home to Simon Mignolet's left.
With the hosts failing to get into the game, Fulham nearly doubled their lead as Mark Schwarzer's booming kick got Dejagah in behind Gardner again, but the Iranian could only lash the ball wide.
Fulham did have a goal soon after thanks to a magnificent counterattack from a Sunderland corner.
Dejagah and Bryan Ruiz carried the ball through midfield before Mignolet parried the former's shot straight into the path of Riether, who tapped into an unguarded net.
The hosts were rocked, but responded in the perfect fashion. Gardner rifled a penalty into the top corner after Senderos had clearly tugged Graham's shirt in the box, under a high ball.
Sunderland came out strongly after the break and should have been level after two minutes, but Graham could only hit a tame effort at Schwarzer from eight yards after Fletcher's initial shot had been blocked into his path.
The hosts began to turn the screw, sending numerous balls into the area, and Alfred N'Diaye headed off-target from 12 yards, shortly after hitting an effort from 25 yards just over.
With 20 minutes to go, the hosts finally levelled, mere moments after almost going two goals down again.
Mignolet saved bravely at Berbatov's feet after a delightful scooped pass from Ruiz and the Black Cats went straight up the other end through Adam Johnson. The winger's cross was blocked but ran straight to Sessegnon, who smashed in from the edge of the box.
The hosts had a penalty appeal turned down after substitute Emmanuel Frimpong threw his hands up to block a long-range shot and Larsson's drive from distance flew wide as the west London outfit clung on to their point.