Diouf left Sunderland for Ewood Park in the January transfer window
by Harry Reekie
Substitute El-Hadji Diouf scored against his former club as Blackburn twice came from behind to salvage a deserved draw against Sunderland.
The game burst into life in the second half when Darren Bent tapped home after a scramble, only for Morten Gamst Pedersen to drill a fine leveller.
Bent broke free to score his 13th goal of the season and restore the lead.
But Diouf came off the bench as part of a triple change to head home a cross from Pascal Chimbonda and seal a point.
The Senegalese striker, who left Sunderland in the January transfer window, had only been on the pitch for five minutes and much credit must go to Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce for making such a bold set of substitutions.
A game we should have won - Allardyce
The result means both sides are still searching for their first win in the league since November, although Blackburn's five-hour wait for a goal at home has finally ended.
Sunderland were never at their best and manager Steve Bruce will no doubt be counting the hours until the injured trio of Kenwyne Jones, Kieran Richardson and Lee Cattermole return.
The hosts' winless streak before the clash stretched back seven games and with Sunderland having gone six matches without tasting victory, a classic never appeared likely.
The opening stages were certainly indicative of two sides in such a rut, with a snap shot from Keith Andrews the closest either team could muster to a goal.
David Meyler, making his debut in the Sunderland midfield, added some enthusiasm but a couple of long-range efforts did not trouble Paul Robinson in the Blackburn goal.
Jason Roberts failed to control in the area after wriggling into space while another long-range drive from Andrews was deflected just over.
Sunderland failed to get a foothold in the game throughout the first half, although a defence missing Anton Ferdinand, John Mensah and Michael Turner were thankful for so little to deal with.
But out of nowhere the visitors went ahead after the break.
A low cross from Daryl Murphy was only parried by Robinson and after a lengthy scramble, Bent popped up to slam home from close range.
An in-form Bent gave Sunderland the lead twice in the second half
It was just what the game needed and inspired Blackburn, who levelled almost immediately.
Pedersen latched on to a flick from Benni McCarthy and made the most of a slip from Phil Bardsley to run at goal, before rounding Nosworthy and drilling home off the post with his right foot.
It was the least Blackburn deserved and they should have moved ahead moments later when a delicious cross from Pedersen was poked just wide by an airborne Andrews.
But Sunderland always looked dangerous on the break and their second goal came from a predictable source.
We should be pleased with point - Bruce
A fine through ball by Jordan Henderson sent Bent clear and Robinson was unable to stop an accurate shot from rolling into the bottom corner.
Allardyce responded with a triple substitution, sending on Franco Di Santo, Nikola Kalinic and Diouf.
And it was the latter who got one over on his former club by heading home a Chimbonda cross to send the home fans wild.
Blackburn should have won the game in the dying moments but saw Sunderland keeper Marton Fulop pull off a brilliant save to deny Ryan Nelsen, with Christopher Samba somehow putting the rebound wide when it was easier to score.
Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce: "I'm pleased with the character of the team and what they showed out there. It also shows how important it is to have strength on the bench as it was crucial that I could send Diouf on.
"Sunderland have gone out and bought a man who scores goals. If we had a man who had scored 13 in the league like Darren Bent then we'd be in a different position.
"I don't think you can add up the goals from our strikers and match what he's scored.
"We haven't got the clout to go out and buy a Bent or a Peter Crouch. I don't think there's anybody out there in the European market that could change things.
"We've made hard work of it but we still had the opportunity to come back and win it. Thankfully we found a couple of goals."
Sunderland manager Steve Bruce: "I've got to be happy with a point with the suspensions and injuries we've got. I had nine players out and that's a lot to deal with.
"I'm a little bit disappointed because we went in front twice. But we'll keep plodding away.
"It was possibly the worst game of football I've ever seen in the first half. But Blackburn always ask you questions as they get the ball into the box from very angle."
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