Sunderland and Bournemouth drew 1-1 in the Premier League this afternoon in a result which didn’t really suit either of the relegation battlers.
New signing Benik Afobe scored the opener after 12 minutes, but despite dominating the opening half they couldn’t add a second. Their lack of killer instinct was exposed in added time at the end of the first period as Patrick Van Aanholt fired home an equaliser.
Bournemouth looked much the better side in the opening exchanges, as Sunderland struggled to get close to their opponents.
Their early pressure paid off as Afobe headed home the first goal of the game.
Junior Stanislas whipped in a cross from the right flank, with an awkward bouncing letting the ball evade the Sunderland centre backs and arrive at the head of the 22-year-old. Vito Mannone got a hand to his effort, but it wasn’t enough to stop the ball ending up in the back of the net.
It was Afobe’s second goal in eight days since signing for the club at the start of the month.
Moments later it should have been 2-0. Mannone got nowhere near Marc Pugh’s cross, and but Stanislas was unable to turn the ball into the empty net.
Sunderland fans started to show their frustration with their side, and as Bournemouth continued to dominate the boos started raining down from the terraces.
It wasn’t until the 35th minute that Sunderland tested Artur Boruc, as John O’Shea’s powerful header forced the Polish keeper into a good save.
On the stroke of half-time, Sunderland managed to haul themselves level. Fabio Borini was the creator, sliding the ball into the path of Patrick Van Aanholt who slammed home from a tight angle.
Sunderland also created the first meaningful chance of the second half, as Adam Johnson tried a speculative long-distance effort, but it was comfortably held by Boruc.
In a major turnaround from the first half, Sunderland continued to look the better side. Defoe and Van Aanholt both went close, and Yann M’Vila forced Boruc into a flying stop.
As the game entered the final ten minutes the two teams both started to look stretched as tired legs took their toll.
Lewis Grabban had what was probably the best opportunity of the entire half in the 82nd minute, but he sent his easy chance wide of the post.
In the dying moments Billy Jones was extremely lucky not be sent off. He scissor kicked Junior Stanislas from behind, but Roger East opted for a yellow. Stanislas left the pitch in considerable pain.
The result leaves Bournemouth in 15th with 15 points. Sunderland stay second-bottom, with 19 points from their 23 games.
Next up for Sunderland is a difficult home game against Manchester City followed by a tough trip to Anfield. Failure to pick something up from those two games could be fatal for their survival chances.
The Cherries travel to Portsmouth in the FA Cup next weekend, then a third consecutive away game against Crystal Palace in the league three days later.