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Tuesday, 11 February, 2003, 23:08 GMT
Black Cats win shoot-out
Gavin McCann scores Sunderland's winning penalty
Gavin McCann scores Sunderland's winning penalty
Sunderland 2-2 Blackburn Rovers (aet)
(Sunderland win 3-0 on penalties)

Sunderland put their Premiership problems behind them to record a morale-boosting FA Cup fourth round win on penalties against Blackburn Rovers.

Kevin Phillips and Gavin McCann had twice put Sunderland ahead before Blackburn looked to have performed a dramatic escape when Garry Flitcroft's second goal deep into injury time took the game into extra time.

But Sunderland convincingly won the penalty shoot-out to clinch a fifth-round tie against Watford.

Phillips, Kevin Kilbane and McCann were on target in the shoot-out, sending Sunderland through as David Thompson missed and Andy Cole and Corrado Grabbi saw their efforts saved by Thomas Sorensen.

Sunderland's confidence was at rock bottom after conceding three own goals in their defeat at home to Charlton in the Premiership - but they responded with a defiant first half display.

They were well worth the lead given to them by Phillips after ten minutes, neatly finished off after good work by youngster Sean Thornton.

David Thompson tackles Sunderland's Michael Gray
David Thompson tackles Sunderland's Michael Gray

Sunderland almost extended their lead 13 minutes later when Phillips was again on target after he was set up by Michael Proctor, but the goal was ruled out for offside.

Blackburn had been desperately disappointing, but they should have been level eleven minutes before half time when James McEveley sent Andy Cole clear, but he shot tamely straight at Sorensen.

I don't know whether we could have taken another whack on the chin after such a monumental effort

Sunderland manager Howard Wilkinson

Sunderland should have wrapped it up within four minutes of the re-start when McCann put Phillips through, but he hit the post and the rebound fell agonisingly away from Proctor.

And Blackburn made them pay within seconds when Flitcroft was left unmarked to head home David Thompson's corner.

But Sunderland continued to press forward and it was no surprise when they regained the lead in spectacular fashion with 11 minutes left.

Souness and Wilkinson hand out orders
Souness and Wilkinson hand out orders

A long throw fell to McCann, and he fired brilliantly into the top corner with Brad Friedel well beaten.

Blackburn were stung into action - and they missed a glorious opportunity to equalise again with five minutes left.

Thompson had seen a shot deflected agonisingly over the top - then when Flitcroft set up Berg he somehow headed wide from almost on the line.

If we are guilty of anything, it is not doing the business in the first game

Blackburn manager Graeme Souness

But Sunderland were hanging on and Blackburn grabbed the leveller in injury time.

Thompson's cross found Flitcroft unmarked at the far post and he slid home easily.

Extra-time failed to separate the sides - so it went to penalties.

Phillips and Kevin Kilbane scored for Sunderland, and Blackburn's feeble response was misses from Thompson and Cole.

Jody Craddock missed for Sunderland, but Blackburn's misery continued when Grabbi saw his spot kick saved by Sorensen.

McCann's spot-kick was blocked by Friedel, but rolled slowly over the line to give Sunderland victory.


Sunderland: Sorensen, Gray (Oster 114), Thome, Craddock, Wright, Arca (McCartney 87), Thornton, McCann, Kilbane, Phillips, Proctor (Kyle 116).
Subs Not Used: Macho, Thirlwell.

Booked: Proctor.

Blackburn: Friedel, McEveley (Douglas 45), Johansson (Grabbi 82), Taylor, Neill, Berg, Tugay, Flitcroft, Thompson, Cole, Yorke (Ostenstad 72).
Subs Not Used: Jansen, Kelly.

Booked: Neill, Thompson.

Attendance: 15,745.

Referee: A D'Urso (Essex).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's John Murray
"Happy endings are few and far between at Sunderland"
Sunderland boss Howard Wilkinson
"The lads deserved that"
Sunderland's Kevin Kilbane
"I'm pleased to eradicate my shoot-out demons"

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