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10-man Sunderland fightback to frustrate Hammers

Sunderland’s 10 men fought back from two goals down to earn a dramatic 2-2 draw against West Ham on Saturday.

Steve Bruce’s team looked dead and buried as Guillermo Franco and Carlton Cole put West Ham in control at the Stadium of Light.

Andy Reid got one back for Sunderland before the break but the hosts were in trouble again when Kenwyne Jones was sent off for violent conduct just before half-time.

Even that couldn’t discourage Sunderland and Kieran Richardson equalised late on to deny struggling West Ham only their second Premier League win this season.

A frustrating day for Gianfranco Zola’s side was capped when midfielder Radoslav Kovac was sent off in the final minutes.

Sunderland’s leading scorer Darren Bent came close to an early goal when Lorik Cana picked out the former Tottenham striker and he nodded just wide.

But West Ham were quickly into their stride and Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon had to save Mark Noble’s curling strike from the edge of the penalty area.

They took the lead in the 30th minute when Jack Collison beat Sunderland’s offside trap and crossed for Franco to slot home at the near post.

It was the Mexican’s first goal since moving from Spanish side Villarreal in pre-season.

Zola’s men didn’t have to wait long for a second goal. Cole was picked out by Collison’s reverse ball and, after taking a touch, the England striker drove a cool finish past Gordon in the 36th minute.

Reid gave Sunderland hope two minutes later after Valon Behrami had fouled Steed Malbranque on the edge of the area.

Republic of Ireland midfielder Reid took full advantage as he whipped a superb free-kick over the wall and past England goalkeeper Robert Green.

Just as Sunderland looked to be back in the game, Jones was given a straight red in first-half stoppage time. He was fouled by Herita Ilunga and retaliated by pushing him in the face.

Green kept the visitors in front with two quickfire saves early in the second half as he pushed Bent’s low shot behind for a corner and then parried Michael Turner’s header from the resulting set piece.

Sunderland were a man down but had no intention of surrendering.

The Black Cats came desperately close in the 65th minute when Cana’s header after a Reid corner came back off the crossbar and, from the rebound, Paula Da Silva’s header was tipped onto the bar and behind by Green.

Bruce’s side kept pushing and finally levelled through Richardson in the 76th minute.

Bent’s cross from the right was deflected off Matthew Upson and looped high over the head of Green to the back post where Richardson was on hand to help it home.

West Ham were reduced to 10 men in the 87th minute when Kovac was sent off, having picked up a second yellow for a foul on Bent.

Bent had a chance to win it moments later but lashed his left-footed effort well wide, then Sunderland needed a goalline clearance from Turner to deny Noble in a dramatic finish.

Sat 31 October, 2009
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