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Sunderland 2-2 Fulham Prem28 1213 The Sun

last updated Monday 04th March 2013, 11:24 PM
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David Coverdale at SunSport

Sunderland (1) 2 Fulham (2) 2

SUNDERLAND may just have taken a little inspiration from Nelson Mandela after all.

The Black Cats this week announced a partnership with the former South African president's charity.

And Martin O'Neill's men showed a bit of Mandela's old fighting spirit to come back against Fulham and end their three-game losing streak.

Craig Gardner and the brilliant Stephane Sessegnon salvaged a point for Sunderland after Dimitar Berbatov and Sascha Riether had stunned the Stadium of Light with two goals in the opening 35 minutes.

But boss O'Neill was left cursing referee Mark Halsey for failing to spot a late handball by Cottagers defender Philippe Senderos.

O'Neill said: "We fought back and I thought we could and should have won the game.

"We had a clear-cut penalty with Senderos handling the ball and the referee has chosen not to give it. These things are important.

"But I can't be disappointed in the effort. We've had to go for everything and we've had enough pressure to have conjured up something."

Ref Halsey was in the thick of it with just 16 minutes on the clock, awarding the softest of penalties when Gardner clipped Iranian midfielder Ashkan Dejagah.

Berbatov nonchalantly rolled the ball in from the spot.

And despite the Black Cats fightback, Fulham have STILL never lost when the Bulgarian gets on the scoresheet.

It was Berba's defensive header which got the visitors on their way for the second goal 10 minutes before the break.

Dejagah played a one-two with Bryan Ruiz. His shot was straight at Simon Mignolet but the Sunderland keeper made a poor job of parrying the ball and on-loan Cologne full-back Riether swooped to tap home his first goal for the West London side.

It looked grim for Sunderland but they grabbed a lifeline when Senderos held back Danny Graham and Halsey pointed to the spot again.

Gardner made amends for his earlier foul by smashing his spot-kick past Mark Schwarzer.

Sessegnon and Graham both tested the Aussie keeper either side of half-time. And Sunderland got the equaliser they deserved on 70 minutes.

It came after Mignolet saved with his feet to deny Berbatov.

Sessegnon led the counter-attack, then brilliantly finished it off after Adam Johnson's ball broke to him off Senderos.

Senderos and Emmanuel Frimpong both appeared to handle inside the box in a frantic finish. But Fulham boss Martin Jol preferred to moan about the one spot-kick which did go against the visitors.

The Dutchman said: "The penalty was soft. There was a little bit of contact but it was never a penalty.

"It gave them a bit of confidence. After that it wasn't easy but we should have scored to make it 3-1. I think we deserved a bit more."

SUNDERLAND: Mignolet 7, Gardner 6, O'Shea 6, Bramble 6, Colback 6, Sessegnon 8, N'Diaye 7, Larsson 6, Johnson 6, Fletcher 7, Graham 6 (McClean 5).
Subs not used: Westwood, Bardsley, Vaughan, Mangane, Cuellar.

Booked: N'Diaye.

FULHAM: Schwarzer 6, Riether 6, Senderos 5, Hangeland 7, Riise 7, Duff 6 (Emanuelson 5), Sidwell 6, Karagounis 6 (Frimpong 5), Dejagah 7 (Rodallega 5), Ruiz 7, Berbatov 7.
Subs not used: Etheridge, Petric, Richardson, Hughes.

Booked: Hangeland, Sidwell, Riether.

REF: M Halsey 7

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