Sunderland had to settle for a 0-0 draw with West Brom in Saturday’s Premier League encounter at the Stadium of Light as goalkeeper Ben Foster proved the visitors’ hero.
There were chances for Jermain Defoe and Lee Cattermole before the break, while Jan Kirchhoff and Fabio Borini threatened in the second half, but neither managed to find the net as Sunderland’s relegation struggles continued following their fourth consecutive draw.
West Brom, meanwhile, created few chances of note as they happily settled for a point, with Foster keeping his fourth clean sheet in nine league games this campaign.
Sam Allardyce opted to give Fabio Borini his first start in a home game since February, while giving Cattermole the nod in midfield ahead of Jack Rodwell.
Tony Pulis left out Stephane Sessegnon for West Brom after the attacking midfielder returned late from international duty.
There was a moment to cherish for West Brom’s Jonathan Leko late on, with the 16-year-old making his Premier League debut as he replaced the underwhelming Saido Berahino.
Defoe threatened early on when he tested Foster with a clever backheel after some good work from Younes Kaboul down the right.
The experienced striker continued to be Sunderland’s biggest threat in the first half, turning past his marker after being played in by Patrick van Aanholt before seeing his low shot go just wide of the far post in the 20th minute.
Defoe then only just failed to get his head to a fine Wahbi Khazri cross.
Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone, who made his 100th Premier League appearance, was called into action for the first time when James Chester’s mishit cross from the left nearly surprised him at the far post.
Cattermole should have opened the scoring for Sam Allardyce’s men after 32 minutes when a superb ball from Khazri played him in, but a poor first touch allowed Foster to rush off his line and make a save as the midfielder attempted to chip him.
West Brom, meanwhile, seemed happy to sit back and defend, as attackers Salomon Rondon and Berahino remained largely anonymous, with Sunderland looking comfortable in defence.
The home side continued to dominate after the break and Kirchhoff was unlucky not to break the deadlock in the 54th minute, the former Bayern Munich man’s shot hitting Foster in the face.
Borini was next to try his luck with a powerful long-range strike, only for Foster to show his class with a superb save.
Italian Borini volleyed just wide from 10 yards just a few minutes later when he got his foot to a low cross from the right.
Sunderland were arguably more deserving of the victory, but they failed to beat Foster as Borini and Defoe missed more late chances to win it.
Dame N’Doye then thought he had netted the winner well into stoppage time, but his goal was disallowed for offside as West Brom held out for a hard-fought draw.
Key Opta stats:
– Sunderland’s 22 total shots (including blocked shots) was their highest number of attempts in a Premier League game this season.
– For the seventh time this season, West Brom failed to record a shot on target in a league game.
– Jonathan Leko made his first Premier League appearance for West Brom – aged 16 years and 344 days. He is the first player to play in the Premier League born in 1999.
– Tony Pulis’ side have won just one of their last ten Premier League away games (W1 D5 L4).
– West Brom recorded their 11th clean sheet of the season, while only five teams have more.
– West Bromwich Albion have lost just one of their last 13 Barclays Premier League meetings with Sunderland (W8 D4 L1).