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Goals from Fabio Borini and Adam Johnson secured Sunderland a dramatic 2-2 draw at home to Southampton.
Southampton looked set to end an eventful week, which included the resignation of chairman Nicola Cortese on Wednesday, with victory after first-half goals from Jay Rodriguez and Dejan Lovren. Yet Sunderland's recent resurgence continued as Borini halved the deficit before half-time, and Johnson maintained his excellent form with a superb right-footed strike to level an exhilarating contest and move Sunderland up one spot to 18th, ahead of Saturday's later fixtures, while Southampton remain ninth.
Sunderland made two changes with Sebastian Larsson and Jozy Altidore replacing Jack Colback and Steven Fletcher, while the visitors brought in Calum Chambers for Nathaniel Clyne.
Southampton's early dominance was rewarded after four minutes when the hosts failed to clear their lines, allowing Rodriguez time to bring the ball out of the air and rifle home a superb half-volley from 25 yards. Buoyed by the opener, Jack Cork almost capitalised on Vito Mannone's poor clearance by lofting an effort onto the roof of the net.
The home fans were becoming restless and their mood was not helped when Rickie Lambert dragged wide from Morgan Schneiderlin's neat flick after being put through one-on-one with Mannone. Wes Brown was caught in possession soon after by Lambert, who laid into the path of Rodriguez only for the forward to shoot tamely at Mannone.
Southampton's second goal arrived after 31 minutes, Lovren escaping the attention of Brown to volley home Davis' right-wing corner. But within the space of a minute Sunderland clawed their way back into the match when Borini collected Johnson's long ball and guided his shot past Artur Boruc.
The contest opened up after the break and Southampton could have scored again when good work by Adam Lallana led to Rodriguez firing straight at Mannone from the edge of the box on 56 minutes. The away side continued to press with Lovren seeing a free header saved, before Rodriguez met Lambert's centre from the right on the hour mark but failed to hit the target.
Southampton were almost punished when Borini sprinted away from the defence and slotted under Boruc, only to denied by the linesman's flag. However, the home fans were sent into delirium on 71 minutes when Ki Sung-Yeung charged forward and found Craig Gardner. His pass picked out Johnson on the right of the box and the winger's thunderous strike squirmed in at the near post.
With the momentum behind them Sunderland pushed for the winner, and Johnson almost delivered for Gus Poyet's men with a half-volley that was smartly stopped by Boruc.
Southampton's day worsened in the closing stages when Gaston Ramirez was carried off on a stretcher with an apparent ankle injury following a challenge by Brown.
Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet: "It was looking really bad. We couldn't make a pass together, couldn't cope with the pace, power and passing game of Southampton. It was looking dark but the [Borini] goal came at the right time.
"We need to be realistic; this is a point gained because we were far from being good enough in the first half. It is incredible how much we changed in the second half.
"The second half is the best part of our game. We have been working on things. The subs have been outstanding. If they keep believing maybe it is going to be possible [to avoid relegation]."
Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino: "I'm not pleased with a point because we were superior to Sunderland over the 90 minutes. It is a shame that on their first attack they scored.
"We got to 2-0 very quickly and thought we would be able to withstand their attacks. I'm happy with our overall game, not just the start of the match. We did well in light of a tough and difficult week.
"I am worried for Dejan and Gaston - they've both gone to hospital and they are being analysed. They both looked like really painful injuries. We just need to see what the assessment is."
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|03 May 2014||v Man Utd (A)|