Stephane Sessegnon scoring with a minute remaining as Sunderland twice came from behind to claim a well earned point in a 2-2 at home to Aston Villa.
Connor Wickham had earlier scored his first goal for the Black Cats after Stiliyan Petrov had given the visitors the lead before Richard Dunne looked to have snatched victory heading in with five minutes remaining. However it was Sessegnon who had the last laugh scoring for the second consecutive match to secure a share of the spoils. It was a fair result in the end with both sides dominating in spells with Sunderland seeing the best of an entertaining first half.
Steve Bruce’s side were searching for back-to-back wins for the first time this season after beating Bolton 2-0 last week. The Wearsiders will have been wary though of Villa who were out for blood after losing at home to Midlands rivals West Brom last week and their intent was clear to see. Alex McLeish has made his side hard to beat and will have been banking on the goals of former Black Cat Darren Bent to shoot down his former side. The England striker received a hostile reception on his first return to Stadium of Light and saw his every touched booed by the red and white support.
He should have opened the scoring on 16 minutes after Gabriel Agbonlahor found him at the back post only for Kieron Richardson to put him off. Sunderland had started well with Sebastian Larsson forcing Shay Given into two saves in the opening six minutes but their dominance came to nothing as Petrov broke the deadlock on 16 minutes. The Bulgarian was given time and space to pull the trigger seeing his 20-yard strike fly past Simon Mignolet after neat build up involving Agbonlahor and Alan Hutton. Sunderland stepped up their game after that and 18-year-old Wickham threatened for the first time in the 27th minute seeing his header from a Larsson corner cleared off the line by Steven Warnock. The former Ipswich hit man wasn’t to be denied though and he opened his account in red and white latching onto a Sessegnon through ball holding off a legion of Villa defenders before firing across Given and into the bottom corner.
The second half saw Bruce lose keeper Mignolet after being caught in the face by Emile Heskey with Kieron Westwood making his Premier League debut. He made himself immensely popular in 73rd minute denying Bent from putting Villa back in front. He was beaten five minutes from time though as Dunne headed home Petrovs free kick and with time running nerves began to jangle in the stands. They were settled though as Sessegnon rose highest in the Villa penalty area to head home Larsson’s wonderful free kick delivery to rescue a vital point for the Black Cats.