Defoe comes to Sunderland's rescue
Published 22/08/2015 | 17:13
Jermain Defoe answered Sunderland's call in their hour of need to hand head coach Dick Advocaat a first Barclays Premier league point of the season.
The 32-year-old striker slid home a trademark 62nd-minute equaliser to cancel out Bafetimbi Gomis' opener in first-half injury time and deny Swansea victory at the Stadium of Light.
The 1-1 draw was no more than the Black Cats deserved from a much-improved performance, although they might still have emerged empty-handed had it not been for the heroics of goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon as the visitors pushed for the win.
Sunderland as a club had come out fighting, with chairman Ellis Short hitting back at claims that he has not invested in the team heavily enough and in particular at former defender Michael Gray's withering assessment of their start to the season, while Advocaat pleaded for patience and insisted that things would get better.
The message appeared to get through to the players, who had conceded seven goals in their opening two games and surrendered tamely on both occasions, as they set about their task with an impressive determination.
John O'Shea's return to a previously porous rearguard certainly helped but the power of Yann M'Vila, the pace of Jeremain Lens and the brawn of Danny Graham ahead of him gave the home side a foothold in the game.
Swansea, who struggled to get dangerous winger Jefferson Montero into the game, found themselves limited to long-range efforts, with Andre Ayew and Gomis seeking to test Pantilimon on several occasions, although failing to do so unduly.
For their part, Sunderland saw a 36th-minute Graham overhead kick deflected straight to keeper Lukasz Fabianski, who was otherwise largely untroubled despite the Black Cats growing in confidence as the half wore on.
But just as they thought they had safely negotiated the opening period, Swansea struck at their Achilles heel, Kyle Naughton sliding the ball into Gomis' injury-time run down the left to allow the striker to shoot first time past Pantilimon, with defender Sebastian Coates powerless to prevent him.
Advocaat's players left the pitch to sympathetic applause, but they could have been further behind within two minutes of the restart when Jonjo Shelvey's driven free-kick from a tight angle was blocked on the line.
Fortune was on Sunderland's side when, after they had slept to allow the visitors to take a short corner, Ayew met Shelvey's cross with a firm header which came back off the post, with Pantilimon rooted to the spot.
Swansea were dominating possession, with the Black Cats barely able to escape from their own half, but they threw off the shackles with 62 minutes gone when Graham picked up possession in midfield and fed Lens, who turned the ball into Defoe's path for the striker to slot inside the far post.
The home side were appealing in vain for a penalty four minutes later after Jack Rodwell lasted the ball into Ashley Williams' arm, but Pantilimon had to save from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Shelvey in quick succession before pulling off a remarkable stop to keep out Gomis' 74th-minute point-blank header.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
"Swans win all home games, draw all away games, Bafe scores in all games... That's title pace! :P" - Swansea fan Chris Ormie gets excited.
Costel Pantilimon: 8 (Out of 10)
Billy Jones: 6
Patrick van Aanholt: 6
John O'Shea (Capt): 6
Sebastian Coates: 6
Lee Cattermole: 6
Jack Rodwell: 6
Yann M'Vila: 7
Jeremain Lens: 6
Jermain Defoe: 7
Danny Graham: 6
Steven Fletcher: 6
Duncan Watmore: 6
Lukasz Fabianski: 6
Kyle Naughton: 7
Neil Taylor: 6
Ashley Williams (Capt): 6
Federico Fernandez: 6
Jack Cork: 6
Jonjo Shelvey: 8
Jefferson Montero: 6
Gylfi Sigurdsson: 6
Andre Ayew: 7
Bafetimbi Gomis: 7
Jonjo Shelvey: The pick of the bunch as he drove Swansea forward from central midfield and better finishing from the service he provided might have seen his side take the three points.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Costel Pantilimon: His stunning save to keep out Bafetimbi Gomis' late close-range header secured his side's first point of the season.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH
Sunderland head coach Dick Advocaat will have been delighted with his side's resilience as they responded in positive style to going behind and finished the game going for the win.
MOAN OF THE MATCH
Sunderland fans appealing for a first-half penalty for Federico Fernandez's superbly-timed sliding challenge on Danny Graham. Referee Neil Swarbrick was suitably unimpressed.
WHO'S UP NEXT
Sunderland v Exeter (Capital One Cup, Tuesday August 25)
Swansea v York (Capital One Cup, Tuesday August 25)