Sunderland 0 QPR 0

Spoils shared on Wearside.

Sunderland couldn’t find a way through as visitors QPR departed a rain-drenched Stadium of Light with a point.

Both sides had chances to win the contest, with Sunderland twice coming close through leading scorer Steven Fletcher.

Meanwhile Simon Mignolet produced a couple of decent saves at the other end to deny a Rangers side who picked up their second away point of the season.

Martin O’Neill lost captain Lee Cattermole to an injury – this time to his other knee – very early in the game and his side couldn’t find the attacking spark they needed to unlock the visiting defence.

A Fletcher header from close range just after the hour was their best chance of the game, but Rangers keeper Rob Green made a fine save having replaced Julio Cesar at half time.

O’Neill made two changes to his side ahead of the game, with Jack Colback dropping to the bench to accommodate Craig Gardner and Matt Kilgallon filling in for the injured John O’Shea.

However, Colback’s stay amongst the substitutes was a short one as Cattermole pulled up six minutes in after coming off worst in a midfield challenge.

Former Black Cat Djibril Cisse – who had tested Mignolet with a weak header early on – provided a sterner challenge for the Belgian keeper 12 minutes in, forcing a good save with a low curling shot from the edge of the box.

Sunderland responded six minutes later when Adam Johnson's superb inswinging free-kick picked out Carlos Cuellar, whose looping header was well tipped over by the alert Cesar.

With the two sides still feeling their way into the game, Cisse blasted wide of Mignolet's goal before Stephane Sessegnon did likewise at the other end after seizing on Ryan Nelsen's half-clearance.

And both teams had excellent chances to take the lead as the back end of the half unfolded.

Sunderland were firstly grateful to Mignolet for an excellent close-range block to deny Jamie Mackie, who had raced in undetected down the right. Equally impressive were the subsequent flying blocks from Gardner and Phil Bardsley as the visitors tried to force the loose ball home.

The hosts' riposte arrived soon afterwards, with Johnson making an intelligent run before laying the ball off into the path of Fletcher, whose powerful drive was turned behind by Cesar down low.

Nelsen saw a close-range header grabbed by Mignolet from a corner to cap an even first period.

The visitors were forced to make a half-time change with Green replacing Cesar in goal after the latter struggled through the latter stages of the first period with an injury.

Esteban Granero and Stephane Mbia both threatened in the early stages of the second period - the latter with a superb run and shot from a deep position which flashed just wide with Mignolet scrambling across to cover.

Green then came up big to stymie Sunderland’s best chance of the game – Fletcher’s header from Seb Larsson’s precise corner.

The Scot looked odds on to score when he stepped away from his marker to meet the delivery, but the QPR keeper somehow got his body in the way before gathering the ball almost on the line.

O’Neill introduced James McClean with 20 minutes to go as he looked for a deciding goal.

However, the visitors could have won it late on when Cisse got away from his marker to fire in a low shot which Mignolet did well to block.

Sessegnon came close to meeting an excellent cross from McClean in injury time, but there was to be no late breakthrough as the spoils were shared.

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Team Sheet

Mignolet
22
Kilgallon
12
Yellow Cuéllar
24
Rose
3
Bardsley
2
Gardner (Saha)
8
Larsson
7
Johnson (McClean)
21
Sessegnon
28
Cattermole (Colback)
6
Fletcher
26
César (Green)
33
Hill Yellow
6
Bosingwa
19
Nelsen
17
Traore
3
Mackie Yellow
12
Taarabt (Wright-Phillips)
10
Mbia
40
Diakité (Park) Yellow
2
Granero
14
Cissé
9

Substitutes

Westwood
20
Colback
14
Saha
25
Bramble
19
Campbell
9
Vaughan
15
McClean
23
Park
7
Wright-Phillips
11
Green
1
Derry
4
Hoilett
23
Ferdinand
5
da Silva
20