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Thursday 18 September K.O. 20:05



Stadium of Light | 22nd November 2010 20:00

Sunderland v Everton

Everton have moved up to 14th in the table after a thrilling encounter at the Stadium of Light.

Steve Bruce's men, fresh from their dramatic humbling of champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, proved a very tough obstacle for David Moyes' travelling outfit.

But some eye-catching football and a brave approach to the contest ensured the Blues departed the North East with a hugely creditable point.

They had to battle for it though, relinquishing an early Tim Cahill lead to a brace from Danny Welbeck before Mikel Arteta netted a deflected equaliser seven minutes from time.

It was a dream start to the night for the visitors. After withstanding an early flourish from their hosts, the Blues produced a flowing move down the left  on five minutes culminating in an exquisite centre from Leighton Baines that was headed home imperiously from six yards by Tim Cahill.

The Aussie's seventh goal of the season was textbook Cahill. And underlined precisely why the prospect of losing him for an extended period in December in January because of international commitments is so frustrating for the Blues.

New England international Jordan Henderson tested Tim Howard with a low, curling free-kick in the 12th minute but the US stopper gathered it at the second time of asking.

As the contest began to hot up, John Heitinga picked up a yellow card for the second consecutive game and Seamus Coleman and Kieran Richardson were involved in an off-the-ball incident.

Mikel Arteta equalises for Everton at SunderlandMikel Arteta equalises for Everton at Sunderland

It was a moment of quality from the home side that brought the scores level though. Former Dutch international Bolo Zenden evaded Steven Pienaar and darted into the box, drilling a low centre that Danny Welbeck turned home.

With the home fans finding their voice, Richardson drilled wide after a strong run.

Everton needed to weather the storm and regain their footing. But that is precisely what they did - and they were unlucky not regain the lead shortly after the half hour mark.

OUtstanding work down the left between Pienaar and Baines earned a corner. The left-back centred the ball and Cahill again connected - but this time it was cleared off the line by Henderson.

Minutes later Sylvain Distin fired over with Craig Gordon out of position and  the Scotland international was forced into action by a Coleman effort and a Louis Saha drive as the visitors regained their composure and attacking verve.

Baines and Pienaar continued to be Sunderland's chief tormentors. But a second goal before the break was not forthcoming.

The home side opened the second period playing with renewed vigour. But aside from a Welbeck effort that was straightforward for Howard Bruce's men couldn't turn impetus into chances.

Everton's passing game slipped through the gears once again and they were unlucky not to regain their lead when Cahill latched onto a pass from skipper Phil Neville. He guided a deft lob shot over the advancing Gordon only for Michael Turner to intervene to clear off the line.

With 25 minutes remaining, coleman was withdrawn and replaced by Jack Rodwell as the Blues sought the winning goal.

The attacking play continued to catch the eye. But the killer blow was proving elusive. And the Blues paid the price in the 71st minute. A counter-attack led to a Bent effort deflecting wide for a corner.

Seconds later and the home side were ahead - Welbeck glancing in his second from Richardson centre although replays suggested there was a suspicion of offside in the build-up.

Sylvain Distin tackles Bolo ZendenSylvain Distin tackles Bolo Zenden

Everton responded positively but their neat, intricate passing just couldn't find a way through Sunderland's resolute backline.

It took a slice of good fortune to finally level the scores once again. Arteta produced a clever turn on the edge of the box to create the space for a shot which took a crucial deflection off Anton Ferdinand en route to the corner of the net.

It was no less than the away side deserved and with seven minutes remaining, the Blues had Jermaine Beckford and Yakubu on the field as they searched for a winner.

But it meant taking risks - as a Bent shot into the sidenetting and a Welbeck effort wide illustrated. At the other end, Beckford contrived to fire over with virtually the last kick of the game as he sprinted through.

So, ultimately, neither side could muster a goal. But a point was the least Everton deserved from this enthralling contest.



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