Reading 2, Sunderland 1: Hunt drags Reading over the line

Official leaves Keane frustrated again after Chopra's 50th League goal gives Black Cats hope

One always had the impression Santa Claus would knock before having the temerity to venture down Roy Keane's chimney, but this year he may be tempted to send the presents via DHL, for there is nothing merry about Keane's Christmas to date. For the second successive week his Sunderland team finished the match surrounding the officials as another precious Premier League point slipped away.

Last week they were denied what they believed was a valid last-minute winner against Aston Villa. Yesterday they were convinced Steve Hunt's winner for Reading had not crossed the line before Craig Gordon clawed it away. The linesman, Steve Rubery, disagreed, and his opinion was the one that mattered. With the camera at the wrong angle television pictures were inconclusive, although the gut reaction suggested Rubery got it right. Probably.

Keane, inevitably, disagreed. "I'm told if an official is notsure they can't give it," he said. "Obviously the assistant had very, very good eyesight. If he is sure then credit to him, he must have fantastic vision."

Steve Coppell, Reading's manager, said: "The linesman was in a great position, we can't questionhis integrity." But he added, of the victory: "Fortunate is the best way of putting it. I thought he [Hunt] had hit the post and it had come out. I was disappointed, then I saw people celebrating and the linesman with his flag up."

Keane, meanwhile, was not just grumbling about the goal. "Other decisions went against us," he said, "their free-kick for their first goal, their throw-in before the second.

"There's hundreds of wrong decisions gone against us [this season]; if I were to stand here and talk about all of them I'd miss my Christmas dinner."

On the balance of play, justice was just about done. When Ivar Ingirmarsson put Reading ahead in the 69th minute after an hour of sporadic pressure, Coppell said he had hoped it would lead to "one of those emphatic 1-0 victories". Instead Michael Chopra levelled from the spot after Ibrahima Sonko had brought down Kenwyne Jones, and the latter spurned a great chance to win the game and put Sunderland in good heart before the Boxing Day visit of Manchester United. Now they drop back into the bottom three, and Reading secure some breathing space.

Both sides are seeking to hold on before reinforcements arrive in the transfer window. Coppell picked an unchanged team for the fifth match in succession in part because there is a lack of alternatives. Keane's need to freshen up his team was shown by his making four changes from last week's draw, including the return of the 9 million goal-keeper Gordon and the veteran Andy Cole.

The latter could have, should have, put the Black Cats into the lead after three minutes. Played onside by Graeme Murty, he ran unchallenged on to Dwight Yorke's clever chip, steadiedhimself, then shot at MarcusHahnemann. The ball came back to Cole, but his first touch was poor and the American goal-keeper was able to gather.

Reading thereafter dominated,but Bobby Convey pulled a shot wide, Dave Kitson curled a 20-yard attempt on to the roof of the net, and Doyle missed a trio of chances. In between, Hunt was denied by a stunning save from Gordon having risen to meet a Kitson cross at the far post.

A stalemate seemed improbable; the only clean sheets either team had kept since August came against goal-shy Derby County. But when Hunt struck the far upright soon after the break one wondered. Then the dam burst. Sonko met James Harper's free-kick at the near post, Gordon parried, and Ingirmarsson stabbed the ball in. Chopra, without a goal since August, levelled from the spot. Finally, after Hahnemann had denied Chopra and Jones, Long crossed, and Hunt, a Sunderland transfer target, swept the ball goalwards. Was it over the line? On such marginal calls are relegations sometimes decided.

Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?