Late Sessegnon reply not enough for share of spoils.
A late Stephane Sessegnon strike was not enough for Sunderland at The Hawthorns as West Bromwich Albion sealed a 2-1 win.
On-loan Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku scored twice for the Baggies before Sessegnon replied late on.
Lukaku opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the first half after Craig Gardner was judged to block a cross with his outstretched arm.
The Belgian notched his second goal in fortunate circumstances late on when a Simon Mignolet clearance hit the striker and bounced directly into the Sunderland goal.
Martin O'Neill handed Danny Graham a first start and his side created chances in the opening ten minutes from two corners, with John O’Shea almost opening the scoring.
The Irishman’s knocked on header by the front post hit the woodwork before Ben Foster caught the ball, but there were strong claims from O’Shea that it crossed the line. However, replays appeared to show that the keeper had gathered the ball in time.
Steven Fletcher then came close 25 minutes into the game. Strike partner Graham laid the ball off just inside the box for Fletcher to hit a low left-footed shot which bounced back off the post.
The rebound found its way back to Fletcher, who fired over the bar.
Albion were straight on the attack at the other end with James Morrison hitting a low shot across the Sunderland goal, but nobody could connect to turn the ball in for the home side.
The hosts missed a good chance when Liam Ridgewell crossed for Yousouff Mulumbu who climbed high to head at goal, but his effort went narrowly wide.
But Albion did break through 10 minutes before the break through Lukaku's penalty.
Referee Roger East pointed to the spot after Ridgewell’s cross from the left flank hit Gardner’s arm just inside the Sunderland box.
Belgium striker Lukaku stepped up to face international teammate Mignolet; hitting a low shot straight down the middle of the goal to open the scoring whilst the Sunderland stopper dived to his left.
Just before the break the home side looked for a second with Lukaku once again showing great strength on the ball. The young forward battled his way through the back line from the right wing but his effort failed to test Mignolet.
Five minutes into the second half and O’Neill’s men were on the attack looking for the equaliser.
Sessegnon was brought down on the right flank to gain a free-kick for the visitors. Adam Johnson whipped the ball into the box which was knocked on by Seb Larsson before going out for a corner.
From the corner Sessegnon almost levelled. The deep cross found its way to the back post where the forward's shot was cleared off the line by Mulumbu.
At the other end Lukaku continued to be the main threat with two more efforts on goal. The striker latched onto the ball outside the Sunderland box before unleashing a powerful shot which was saved by Mignolet. Moments later he was back in on goal but hit his shot wide.
On 75 minutes the home side doubled their lead; Lukaku getting his second goal of the game in fortunate circumstances.
A Titus Bramble backpass was short to Mignolet who rushed out to clear the ball, with his clearance hitting the West Brom frontman and flashing back behind him and into the net.
Before Sunderland got the game back underway, O’Neill replaced Johnson and Larsson with David Vaughan and James McClean for the final 15 minutes.
Just minutes later Sunderland pulled a goal back through Sessegnon.
McClean’s cross from the left wing was cleared by Olsson straight to Sessegnon, who hit a curling right-footed effort into the corner of the goal.
Sunderland pressed for an equaliser in the final five minutes with numerous chances including a long-range effort from Vaughan which was collected by Ben Foster, before sub McClean fired over in stoppage time.
- Yellow Morrison (Fortuné)
- Yellow Lukaku (Odemwingie)
- Long (Dorrans)
- Bramble Yellow
- Johnson (McClean)
- Larsson (Vaughan)