Sunderland saw two goals wrongly disallowed for offside and had a controversial penalty given against them in an entertaining 2-2 Premier League draw at Watford.
Sam Allardyce’s men celebrated securing their survival with a 3-0 win over Everton on Wednesday, and the former West Ham boss made nine changes for Sunday’s clash at Vicarage Road, including debuts for Rees Greenwood and Thomas Robson.
The visitors twice took the lead through Jack Rodwell and Jeremain Lens, either side of Sebastian Prodl’s equaliser.
But they were denied a two-goal advantage on two occasions as Duncan Watmore and then Dame N’Doye saw efforts ruled out with replays suggesting both decisions to be incorrect.
To make matters worse for Sunderland, referee Kevin Friend then awarded the home side a questionable spot-kick when John O’Shea was adjudged to have fouled Jose Manuel Jurado.
Troy Deeney converted for his 13th league goal of the season as Watford secured a point for Quique Sanchez Flores in his last game in charge.
Watford’s Almen Abdi was the first to threaten in the sixth minute, firing narrowly wide of the post from 18 yards following good link-up play between Odion Ighalo and Deeney.
Miguel Angel Britos sliced Watmore’s cross over the bar as Sunderland grew into the contest, before Ighalo shot wide having worked space for himself at the other end.
Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was forced into a first notable save by Nathan Ake’s rasping drive, but it was the visitors who broke the deadlock in the 39th minute through Rodwell.
Lens’ initial shot was saved by Heurelho Gomes, but the ball was worked back out to the midfielder, whose pass across the area was converted by an unmarked Rodwell running in at the back post.
It ought to have been 2-0 a minute later when Watmore slotted home N’Doye’s throughball, but the goal was ruled out for offside with replays showing Watmore was level with the last defender.
And Sunderland’s sense of injustice was exacerbated three minutes after the restart when Prodl headed home Adlene Guedioura’s corner, with the visitors claiming a push on O’Shea.
But parity did not last long as Watmore led a swift counter and fed Lens, who cut back inside on his left foot and fired low underneath Gomes.
Pickford saved impressively from Ake as Watford went in search of an equaliser, before Sunderland were left cursing the linesman’s flag for a second time.
N’Doye’s header from Sebastian Larsson’s free-kick was disallowed, and Sunderland were left further aggrieved when Friend pointed to the spot following a coming together between O’Shea and Jurado.
O’Shea looked to have won the ball but that did not concern Deeney, who sent Pickford the wrong way from 12 yards.
Both sides pushed hard for all three points in the closing stages as Watmore and Ighalo went close, but neither was able to prove the hero as the spoils were shared.
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