A stunning late comeback from Sunderland denied managerless Cardiff victory on Saturday, as two goals in the final seven minutes sealed a remarkable point for the Black Cats.
Cardiff were cruising for much of the game, as goals from Jordon Mutch and Frazier Campbell gave them a commanding 2-0 lead. Only for substitutes Steven Fletcher and Jack Colback to both jump off the bench and score late on to send the thousands of traveling Sunderland fans into raptures at the Cardiff City Stadium.
The point leaves both sides still deep in the relegation battle as Cardiff are in 16th with 18 points, while Sunderland are still bottom and four points behind. But that moral boosting point leaves them just one win away from climbing out of the drop zone.
Mutch opened the scoring in the first five minutes, as a move down Cardiff’s right saw the attacker break free and he rifled in a terrific effort that beat Vito Mannone at this near post to put the Bluebirds 1-0 up.
The strike was Mutch’s fourth goal of the PL season and gave the entire Cardiff City Stadium a lift following the controversial departure of former manager Malky Mackay on Friday.
Buoyed by their early strike, Cardiff continued to pile forward and Kim saw his long-range effort tipped over by Mannone as the Bluebirds went in search of a second.
At the other end Sunderland had a few chances as Sebastian Larsson went through and his pull back was cleared before U.S. striker Jozy Altidore could put the finishing touches on a flowing move. But soon after Craig Noone was allowed to cut in from the right on his deadly left foot and whip a cross to the back post that Steven Caulker headed goalwards but straight at a grateful Mannone who saved.
In the 24th minute Peter Whittingham curled in a deceptive free kick that almost snuck in at the near post, but Mannone scrambled to save Sunderland’s blushes once again. Minutes later Mutch curled in a delightful ball that Frazier Campbell headed just wide as the home side continued to piled the pressure on struggling Sunderland.
But the Black Cats surged back into the game as Ki Sung-Yueng drove into the box and drove a great strike across goal that deflected into the path of Altidore but the USMNT forward somehow put the ball wide form inside the six yard box. Sunderland piled on the pressure as Fabio Borini saw his effort tremendously saved by David Marshall just before the break, as an eventful first half come to a close with the scores locked at 0-0.
At the break Borini was replaced with Steven Fletcher as Gus Poyet put two up front to try and get back in the game.
However the opposite happened when Campbell headed home in the 57th minute from Mutch’s terrific cross on the left, as the former Sunderland forward came back to haunt his old club. That goal sparked Sunderland back into life as Lee Cattermole and Altidore both came close, however Poyet’s side struggled to create any clear cut chances as the second half wore on.
A comeback never looked on the horizon, as the Black Cats struggled to breach Cardiff’s defense. However they eventually broke through in the 83rd minute when Emanuele Giaccherini’s cross found Fletcher who toe poked home to make it 2-1. Then came the equalizer after plenty of pressure, as Colback broke the hearts of Cardiff’s fans with a 95th minute deflected effort that sent the away fans wild.
It was a tremendous end-to-end game, which saved the best drama until the final few moments.
Cardiff City: Marshall; John, Caulker, Turner, Theophile-Catherine; Medel, Whittingham, Kim (Gunnarsson, 79), Mutch, Noone (Cowie, 72); Campbell (Cornelius, 82)
Goals: Mutch (4), Campbell (57)
Sunderland: Mannone, Bardsley, Dossena, Roberge, Diakite, Cattermole (Colback, 74), Larsson (Gardner, 74), Ki, Giaccherini, Borini (Fletcher, 45), Altidore
Goals: Fletcher (83), Colback (90)