Ben Foster was the star of the show for West Brom as he produced a string of stunning saves to hold Sunderland to a 0-0 draw at the Stadium of Light.
- Sunderland 0 West Brom 0
- Chester and Sandro in for Albion
- Cattermole spurns best first-half chance
- Sunderland lay siege in second half
- Foster denies Cats with superb saves
The Albion goalkeeper proved to be a defiant last line of defence for the Baggies, who survived a second-half siege on their goal to pick up a precious point.
Sam Allardyce’s strugglers desperately needed all three points in the survival battle, but Foster denied Jermain Defoe, Fabio Borini, Lee Cattermole and Jan Kirchhoff in a superb display.
West Brom set their stall out with four central defenders playing in the back four and a midfield packed with defensive-minded players.
The Baggies started brightly, but Sunderland had the first chance of the game on eight minutes, when Defoe’s backheel flick from Wahbi Khazri’s cross was well saved by Foster.
Younes Kaboul saw yellow on 17 minutes for a lunge on Sandro, then minutes later Defoe turned Jonny Evans well but dragged an angled shot wide of the upright.
Defoe had a shoot on sight policy, much to the annoyance of his strike partner Borini, and Evans did well to block a shot from the former Spurs hitman on 25 minutes.
Just after the half-hour mark, referee Roger East waved away Sunderland appeals for a penalty after Khazri and Darren Fletcher collided in the 18-yard box.
The best chance of the half fell to Cattermole, who broke clear but tried to chip Albion goalkeeper Foster, who palmed the chance away.
Sunderland ended the half on top, with Defoe once again having a crack at goal but finding Foster in confident form as he made another decent save.
After the break, Craig Gardner went into the book for taking a free-kick too quickly, then East turned down a penalty appeal from Albion, who claimed a handball to no avail.
At the other end, Sunderland started to pile on the pressure and Kirchhoff went on a surging run before poking a shot goalbound, only to see Foster save it with his face.
The hosts were well on top and Borini was the next to test Foster, who palmed away the Sunderland striker’s 18-yard drive before Khazri appealed for a handball penalty against Sandro.
Albion weathered the storm, though, and sent on some fresh legs in the form of ex Black Cat James McClean and 16-year-old striker Jonathan Leko, who replaced Gardner and Saido Berahino.
It was a Premier League debut for teenager Leko, while McClean was roundly booed by the home fans, who still remembered his exuberant celebrations at The Hawthorns earlier this season.
More changes came with Dame N’Doye replacing Khazri for the hosts, and Salomon Rondon making way for Victor Anichebe.
But it was Borini who had the next big chance in the dying stages, with Borini’s curling strike parried to safety by the impressive Foster, who then denied Defoe with a superb save with his legs on 90 minutes.
Albion then held on for a draw, which leaves Sunderland four points from safety after Norwich City beat Newcastle United 3-2 at Carrow Road.