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The BBC's Pat Murphy
"Villa should have buried Sunderland"
 real 28k

Saturday, 29 April, 2000, 17:46 GMT 18:46 UK
Sunderland steal point at Villa

Michael Gray holds Villa's Julian Joachim is held at bay
Aston Villa 1-1 Sunderland

Sunderland snatched an unlikely away point in the Midlands to leave Aston Villa kicking themselves for their profligacy.

The home side had dominated the match and Gareth Barry's first goal of the season looked to have been enough to secure victory.

The FA Cup finalists had chances to put the result beyond doubt, but the openings went begging and Sunderland were given renewed hope.

And with just five minutes left the match was turned on its head when Niall Quinn scored from Nicky Sumerbee's corner to claim a point for the visitors.

Dull opening

In a drab first half Villa should have taken the lead after just 30 seconds when Sunderland defender Paul Butler was caught in possession by Benito Carbone - but the Italian sliced his shot wide.

Alan Thompson blew a great chance for the home side when he slipped in the area just as the ball came to him.

Kevin Phillips, who was named as runner-up to Roy Keane in the Footballer of the Year awards before the game, did his best to put Sunderland in front with a neat ball to Paul Thirwell, but the midfielder's shot was saved by David James.

Villa frontman Julian Joachim then beat two men before setting up Carbone with a cross - but Jody Craddock somehow managed to scramble the ball clear.

Merson masterclass

Half-time substitute John Oster created a Sunderland opening with a minute of the second half, but Quinn headed his cross just past the far post.

Paul Merson was the star for Villa for much of the game and he twice went close with a right-foot shot and a volley following good work from Joachim.

After Joachim and Carbone had further chances, a goal for the home side looked inevitable - and it finally arrived after an hour when Barry headed home Thompson's corner from six yards out.

Sunderland were furious with the decision to allow the goal, though, claiming goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen had been fouled.

Carbone had a superb chance to secure the win, but he fired his shot wide of Sorensen's far post.

With Merson continuing to threaten the Sunderland goal, a home win seemed the only possible outcome.

But with the Villa fans counting the points, Quinn turned on Summerbee's corner to stab home his 14th goal of the season.

Teams:

Aston Villa: James, Ehiogu, Southgate, Barry, Delaney, Thompson, Boateng, Merson, Ghrayib, Carbone, Joachim.
Subs: Watson, Dublin, Hendrie, Samuel, Enckelman.

Sunderland: Sorensen, Makin, P. Butler, Craddock, Gray, Thirlwell, Roy, Summerbee, Kilbane, Phillips, Quinn.
Subs: Dichio, Williams, T. Butler, Oster, Marriott.

Referee: A D'Urso (Billericay)

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