Elmohamady lightens Bruce load after his week from hell
Sunderland 2 West Bromwich Albion 2
Sunday 02 October 2011
Never mind that the technical area in the Stadium of Light was shaded from the sunshine. Steve Bruce must have been feeling the heat intensely at five past three yesterday.
After a week that had brought defeat at Norwich and the arrest, and suspension by the club, of Titus Bramble over allegations of sexual assault and possession of a Class A drug, things appeared to have taken another turn for the worse for the Sunderland manager as West Bromwich hit them with two early goals.
Loud boos rang around after Albion striker Shane Long broke free to score only 60 seconds after James Morrison's fourth-minute opener and left Sunderland staring at a third home league defeat of the campaign in the face.
There was a chant of "Bruce out" from the stadium's vocal southwest corner from home supporters who have now seen their team collect only eight points from a possible 36 here since New Year's Day.
Yet Sunderland roused themselves and the first goals in the red and white stripes for Nicklas Bendtner and Ahmed Elmohamady, struck in the space of three minutes midway through the half, spared Bruce a nightmare end to a difficult week.
The Sunderland manager was delighted with his players' response. "Bloody hell, I just thought this is going to test them and I'll find out what some of them are made of because it was the ultimate test. They were terrific. Two-nil down is bad enough but they were two bad goals. We scored two really good goals and their effort and endeavour got them back in which wasn't easy in the circumstances."
Morrison rose above Wes Brown to head Chris Brunt's right-wing free-kick past Simon Mignolet. The second goal came when Gardner's attempted block sent the ball back between the two Sunderland central defenders and Long took full advantage. Holding off Michael Turner, back in the team because of Bramble's suspension, the Irishman slipped a shot beneath Mignolet.
Bendtner played a role in the comeback, scoring with a shot that flew in with the help of a Gareth McCauley deflection. It was a well-worked goal with Sebastian Larsson meeting Stephane Sessegnon's ball into the box with a cute backheel to tee up the big Dane.
The on-loan Arsenal striker turned provider for the equaliser, curling in a cross that Elmohamady nodded powerfully past Ben Foster.
"Too early wasn't it, there were 90 minutes left to play when we were two up," joked the West Brom manager, Roy Hodgson. "I thought our attacking play was arguably better than our defensive play."
It was Sunderland pushing for a winner on the restart but Brown missed their best chance with a far-post header. Despite the lively Bendtner and Sessegnon keeping Sunderland on the front foot, the home team ran out of steam and remain, like West Brom, with just a single win. Bruce remains determined to "prove people wrong". He added: "We have some good players here and given time we will be OK."
Sunderland (4-4-2): Mignolet; O'Shea, Turner, Brown, Richardson; Elmohamady (Ji, 82); Cattermole (Colback, 70), Gardner (Meyler, 90), Larsson; Sessegnon, Bendtner.
West Bromwich (4-3-2-1): Foster; Reid, McCauley, Olsson, Shorey; Brunt, Mulumbu (Scharner, 74), Dorrans (Thomas, 88); Morrison; Odemwingie, Long.
Referee Lee Mason.
Man of the match Bendtner (Sunderland)
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