Sunderland failed to score for the fourth consecutive match as a 0-0 home draw against Burnley moved them a step closer to relegation from the Premier League.
Billy Jones missed the hosts’ best opportunity with a second-half header as David Moyes’ men halted a three-match losing streak, but again failed to find the net.
Bottom-of-the table Sunderland now sit further away from safety – a seven-point gap after Crystal Palace’s win over Watford – and have just 10 games left if they are to launch another great escape.
Burnley themselves are struggling for form and this was their sixth straight match without a victory, but Sean Dyche will see what is just a third away point of the season as a positive.
The visitors had dominated the first half – Ashley Barnes missing from a great opening – before fading after the break.
However, they did have a penalty claim rejected in each half as they remained 12th in the table and increased their cushion over the relegation places to eight points.
12 – Jermain Defoe has scored a PL goal in every month between Jan 16 & Feb 17 (12 successive months) but is yet to score in Mar 17. Saloon.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 18, 2017
Burnley threatened first when Barnes surged clear from Andre Gray’s pass, but was unable to chip Jordan Pickford after the Sunderland goalkeeper made an ill-advised decision to race off his line.
The visitors then had claims for a penalty turned down when George Boyd’s fierce strike was blocked by the arm of Darron Gibson from close range.
Ben Mee had to leave the field for treatment after being struck by the elbow of Adnan Januzaj and Sunderland threatened for the first time shortly after the defender’s return, Gibson curling a 20-yard effort just over.
But Burnley dominated the first half and it was they who came closest to a goal before the break, Barnes somehow failing to hit the target from six yards after Scott Arfield’s strike fell into his path.
Sunderland wasted a good opportunity shortly after the restart, Fabio Borini firing straight at Tom Heaton after Bryan Oviedo’s throughball created the opportunity.
The hosts continued to press when Januzaj’s bouncing volley was impressively saved by a diving Heaton before Sebastian Larsson shot over from Oviedo’s follow-up cross.
Burnley had their second major penalty claim of the match rejected just after the hour-mark when Barnes went down under pressure from Oviedo during a scramble in front of goal.
That should have been a costly moment for the visitors when Sunderland raced down the other end, but Jones wasted a glorious chance, heading wide from inside the six-yard box having been found by a magnificent right-wing cross from Larsson.
Januzaj fired wide as the match continued to hang in the balance, with Sam Vokes brought on for Burnley, while Didier Ndong and Wahbi Khazri entered the fray for the home side.
Burnley came closest to a dramatic late winner, Vokes’ low strike impressively kept out by a one-handed Pickford save as Dyche’s men were denied a first top-flight away win of the season, while Heaton denied Borini at the other end in stoppage time.
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