Leeds 1-1 Sunderland: Black Cats move closer to the brink
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 07/04/18 6:48pm
Sunderland missed a glorious opportunity to boost their slim Sky Bet Championship survival hopes after drawing 1-1 with 10-man Leeds at Elland Road.
The Black Cats looked to be taking full advantage of fellow strugglers Birmingham and Bolton dropping points when Paddy McNair opened the scoring.
But Pablo Hernandez levelled 18 minutes from time to leave Sunderland, who dropped down from the Premier League last season, with a mountain to climb. Chris Coleman's side are seven points adrift of safety with just five games remaining.
Mid-table Leeds had skipper Gaetano Berardi sent off for a rash tackle on substitute Callum McManaman at the death.
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In a battle between two of the most out-of-form sides in the Championship, it was Leeds who started confidently. Pierre-Michel Lasogga diverted a Gjanni Alioski corner over the top before Ronaldo Vieira, in the 18th minute, advanced into the box and fired a low shot against Lee Camp's left post.
McNair's deflected strike tested home goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell, but Leeds continued to create chances. Samuel Saiz had an effort from distance comfortably parried away by goalkeeper Camp, who then somehow kept out Hernandez's volley from a tight angle following a slick one-two with Alioski.
Leeds' failure to convert their opportunities gave Sunderland hope and the visitors started to threaten.
Peacock-Farrell had to be alert to keep out Aiden McGeady's header at the back post after Vieira was robbed of possession in midfield.
Ashley Fletcher, heavily linked with a move to Leeds last season, then headed a corner against the crossbar four minutes before half-time.
The warning signs were there for Leeds and it took only three minutes of the second half for Sunderland to grab the opening goal.
Donald Love found McNair with a clever lofted pass and the former Manchester United midfielder fired high into the roof of the net from inside the box.
The goal gave Sunderland confidence and they were unhappy not to be awarded a penalty when McGeady went down in the box under the challenge of Saiz.
Alioski wasted a glorious chance, firing over with his weaker right foot, but Leeds were level in the 72nd minute.
Hernandez received the ball on the left-hand side of the area and coolly curled an effort across a sprawling Camp and into the bottom corner.
However, Sunderland had two more excellent chances to secure back-to-back away league wins for the first time since 2014.
Peacock-Farrell produced stunning reflexes to tip over Fletcher's close-range header and then held on to a fizzed drive from McNair.
Sunderland's quest for a winner left gaps at the back and, after testing Camp from inside the box, Saiz saw a free-kick crash off the post late on before Berardi's red card.
Paul Heckingbottom: "I am upset about that, frustrated. Bera is an honest person. I have questioned (whether) has he lost his head and his discipline, but he said he is genuinely going for the ball and accepted it was a bad tackle. I have not seen it back so I am just relaying what he has said.
"I think after going behind, you cannot be entirely satisfied with a draw, but you have got to give the players credit for coming back."
Chris Coleman: "A point is not enough. A point was never going to be enough for us today. We needed the three with the position we are in. The performance was more than enough, it was good. Normally you come to Elland Road and are happy to get a point because it is such a tough place to come.
"We need to win five games of football, simple as that, and we have won only six all season so we are right up against it. It's a big ask, a tall order, but it's not impossible. I wouldn't put money on us, but we have got to keep performing like that. Whether we run out of games, we haven't yet. We cannot throw in the towel yet."