Latics were very slow to get into this game and it would be very easy to blame it on our players only returning to training on Friday afternoon. Most of Latics squad were ion International duties all over the world over the last two weeks and Steve Bruce is supposed to be able to get them together in one day.
It is the same for every team in this division, but that doesn’t make it right. Sunderland started the brightest in the contest creating opportunities from the off. But for all their first half possession and midfield advantage they couldn’t really muster any serious chances.
It actually fell to the out of sorts Titus Bramble (again) to give the lead to the visitors by scoring in his own goal. In all honesty he didn’t really have to go for the ball, but yet again he did and instead of diverting the ball away from goal, smacked it into Kirkland’s goal.
Few chances fell Latic’s way even though they bucked up slightly after the goal, but the half time whistle came and it was probably as much a relief for the players as the unimpressed crowd. This was a totally different performance than we have seen this season.
The second half however was a totally different affair with Latics again showing that they are team that can win every game they play. The movement and passing that was lacking n the first half was showing through in the second.
It was only a matter of time before we scored the equalising goal and it was just amazing that it took so long and that we didn’t then go on to win the game.
Half way into the second half Steve Bruce started changing things with the introduction of Jason Koumas and Olivier Kapo. There became a sense of urgency and this gave Zaki and Heskey renewed energy and belief.
It took nearly 75 minutes though for the equaliser to come, but it came and it was that man again Amr Zaki. He latched onto a cross from Maynor Figueroa and slapped it into £10 million signing Craig Gordon’s goal.
Earlier though both Jason Koumas and Olivier Kapo tested the Black cats keeper but the Scottish number one was on hand to save the day. At the other end of the pitch Kirkland didn’t really have that much to do but it has to be said that Latics worst performance of the season saw them still edge the game overall even though the result didn’t go our way.
Lee Cattermole made it more even by being sent off in the last 5 minutes for a silly second yellow card and Emile Heskey blazed over the bar when he had a great opportunity to win the game in the 3rd minute of extra time.
It finished 1-1
Report by Jason Taylor