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Sunderland 2-2 Fulham Prem28 1213 Daily Mail

last updated Monday 04th March 2013, 11:36 PM

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Bob Cass at Daily Mail

Sunderland (1) 2 Fulham (2) 2

In the end a game which could have eased the relegation worries of either side ended with both still looking over their shoulders.

Not that Sunderland could complain too much after coming from two goals behind to snatch what could turn out to be a valuable point.

Fulham boss Martin Jol did not seem too unhappy either, saying: 'If they had beaten us they would have been on 32 points - and everyone can be dragged into a difficult situation. On one hand it is good but, on the other, three points would have meant we had done the business. But we didn't.'

As it turned out, the game was over as far as Sunderland and the three points were concerned after just 16 minutes.

That was when Dimitar Berbatov, pouring scorn on fellow professionals who either fear or miss penalties, demonstrated ice-cool arrogance in putting Fulham ahead from the spot after Craig Gardner tripped Ashkan Dejagah.

Such was the smiling Berbatov's antics - a pause, a jink, a feint - in his casual amble towards the ball, you almost wanted him to make a mess of it.

But Simon Mignolet was groping in the opposite corner as the ball bounced over the line.

But that was only the dawn of Sunderland's misdemeanours. Twice they contrived to convert attack into defence while at the same time demonstrating an inability to do both very well.

The first time they were lucky to escape, the second it cost them a goal. Fulham were able to break at pace from corners, with Dejagah firing just wide in the 25th minute.

But 10 minutes later, Dejagah raced clear before working a one-two with Bryan Ruiz, whose shot was fumbled by Mignolet and Sascha Riether scored from the rebound.

Sunderland needed hope and it came two minutes later, when Gardner pulled a goal back from the penalty spot after Philippe Senderos fouled Danny Graham.

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill doubted that decision but was even more critical of referee Mike Halsey's refusal to give another penalty for a Senderos hand-ball in the closing stages.

'It was clear-cut and he has chosen not to give it,' he said.

Mark Schwarzer made a superb save from Graham as Sunderland forced the issue from the restart but it took an even better stop from Mignolet to deny Berbatov in the 69th minute and provide the launchpad for Sunderland's equaliser.

The Belgium international made a point-blank save and it was the home team's turn to punish the opposition on the break.

Adam Johnson led the attack and when his low cross was only half-cleared by Senderos, Stephane Sessegnon fired in a low first-time left-footer.

'We came back well and I felt we could and should have won the game,' said O'Neill.

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