A pulsating clash at the Stadium of Light saw both teams leave with a point, as Southampton squandered an early 2-0 lead following a courageous comeback from Sunderland.
Jay Rodriguez put Saints 1-0 up after just three minutes with a rasping drive from outside the box, and the away side doubled their lead when Dejan Lovren hooked home impressively from a corner in the 31st minute. But just one minute later Fabio Borini pulled a goal back for a below par Sunderland, as the home side finished the first half on top after Southampton had dominated.
In the second half the game was much more even as Gus Poyet’s substitute’s brought an added punch to their attack and in the 71st minute Adam Johnson bagged his fourth goal in two games to seal a 2-2 draw.
Southampton stay in ninth with 31 points, while Sunderland occupy 18th and have 18 points.
Southampton started brightly after a turbulent week off the field, and kept the ball comfortably for the the first few minutes as Sunderland were chasing the game from the start.
The Saints made all of that early play count, as after just three minutes Rodriguez brought the ball down on the edge of the box, took one touch to tee himself up andthen smashed a low pile driver into the bottom corner to send the traveling fans wild and put Southampton 1-0 up. The sublime effort was Rodriguez’ ninth PL goal of the season, as Saints’ leading goalscorer put all the teams off-field worries to bed within the first five minutes.
After that early goal the home side seemed a little shocked, as Southampton controlled possession and looked extremely comfortable. Wave after wave of Saints attack arrived as Rodriguez had an effort blocked after a sweeping move down the visitors right saw the England international go close, then left back Luke Shaw saw his deflected effort hit the post in the 17th minute.
Sunderland were lucky to only be 1-0 down, as Rickie Lambert and Morgan Schneiderlin played a terrific one-two that saw the former drag his shot just wide in the 21st minute as the England forward should have put Saints 2-0 up. Relentless pressure kept coming forward, as Rodriguez had a great chance to score his second in the 28th minute when Lambert played him through but the forward fluffed his lined and hot the shot straight at Vito Mannone.
Finally Saints did grab a second as Croatian international Lovren acrobatically hooked home from a Lallana corner after 30 minutes, as the away side led 2-0 after their complete domination. But just over 60 seconds later Sunderland were back in the game after their first effort on goal resulted in Borini stabbing home from Adam Johnson’s inviting cross to make it 2-1.
The Stadium of Light came to life, as the half time whistle signified plenty of hope for the home fans.
At the start of the second half Sunderland were visibly buoyed by only being one goal behind as some pressure from set-pieces saw them try to get back into the game. However Saints stepped it up once again, as Rodriguez went close on two more occasions as the away side looked to put the game away.
In the 64th minute Borini thought he’d grabbed his and Sunderland’s second goal of the game and pulled the Black Cats level, but as he raced through on goal the referee’s assistant raised his flag for a marginally correct offside call. The Mackems were much better in the second and half and really dug in to try and get back in the game.
They did just that in the 71st minute as Johnson was found on the right hand side of the box and his powerful near post shot somehow squirmed past Artur Boruc and into the top corner to make it 2-2. Sunderland were in the ascendancy as the game came reached its climax.
Worrying injuries for Gaston Ramirez and Lovren saw the game stopped for a large spell wit both players leaving the field on stretchers, as seven minutes of injury-time didn’t yield a win for either side in an hugely entertaining game.
Sunderland: Mannone, Bardsley, Alonso, Ki, Brown, O’Shea, Cattermole (Gardner, 62), Larsson (Colback, 63), Johnson, Borini, Altidore (Fletcher, 72)
Goals: Borini (31), Johnson (71)
Southampton: Boruc, Chambers, Fonte, Lovren (Yoshida, 88), Shaw, Cork, Schneiderlin, S. Davis, Lallana (Ramirez 74 – Ward Prowse, 88) , Rodriguez, Lambert
Goals: Rodriguez (3), Lovren (30)