Dick’s denied again
(Fletcher 10, Lens 22)
WEST HAM UNITED 2
(Jenkinson 45, Payet 60)
Dick Advocaat could only look on in horror as Sunderland squandered a two-goal lead to draw with West Ham amid speculation that his reign is drawing to a close.
The 68-year-old Sunderland manager had tears in his eyes as Jeremain Lens struck to make it 2-0 after 22 minutes, with Steven Fletcher having opened the scoring, but his emotions were dramatically different when Carl Jenkinson pulled one back for West Ham in first-half injury time and Dimitri Payet levelled after Lens’ red card for a second bookable offence.
What could prove to be Advocaat’s last game unravelled in front of a crowd of 42,932 as the Black Cats extended their run without a Premier League victory to 11 games stretching back to last season while collecting only their third point of the current campaign.
West Ham ultimately surrendered their 100 per cent league record on the road this season, but will take some comfort from their fightback.
Whatever the future may hold for the Sunderland head coach, at least his players chose their moment to turn in their best 45 minutes of the season to race into a 2-0 lead which could have been even greater.
But the first half lasted significantly longer and it was in added time that the Hammers grabbed a lifeline they scarcely deserved.
Fletcher started the ball rolling with just 10 minutes gone when, after Jenkinson had hauled Fabio Borini to the floor, Yann M’Vila pulled the freekick square to the Scotland striker and he slammed it first-time past the helpless Adrian.
The Black Cats were irresistible with the midfield of Lee Cattermole, Ola Toivonen and the impressive M’Vila dominant, and it was the Frenchman who capitalised on Winston Reid’s hurried clearance to slide the ball into the path of Lens and watched him chip the stranded keeper and score off the underside of the crossbar.
The game could have been over before the break with Borini twice shooting narrowly wide, the first of them after being played through by Fletcher’s clever flick.
But having failed to kill off the game, Sunderland were made to pay in stoppage time when Victor Moses created for himself on the left and crossed for Jenkinson to sweep home.
Payet forced Costel Pantilimon into a 48th-minute save with a curling free-kick as Sunderland struggled to rediscover their first-half vigour, and Manuel Lanzini fired just wide after embarking on a adventurous 56thminute run.
The visitors received a further boost seconds later when Lens, who had already been booked for a firsthalf challenge on Aaron Cresswell, went through the back of Winston Reid and received a second yellowcard, and they needed only three minutes to make their numerical advantage count.
Pantilimon could not hold a shot from distance from Lanzini and Payet was on hand to convert the rebound and stun the locals inside the Stadium of Light.
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