Sunderland vs Luton Town. Sky Bet Championship.
Stadium of LightAttendance37,579.
Report and free match highlights from the Sky Bet Championship match between Sunderland and Luton Town at the Stadium of Light as a late Amad Diallo penalty earned a point for the Black Cats on Saturday.
Saturday 18 March 2023 19:42, UK
Amad Diallo's 86th-minute penalty enabled Sunderland to secure a point and dented Luton's automatic promotion hopes after a 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light.
The Hatters looked to be closing to within four points of the top two in the Sky Bet Championship after Alfie Doughty's long-range strike opened the scoring at the start of the second half.
But having been tugged down by Amari Bell in the final five minutes of the game, Amad dusted himself off to drill home his ninth goal of the season from the spot.
The Manchester United loanee was one of five second-half substitutes introduced by Tony Mowbray, with his alterations helping ensure the Black Cats did not suffer a second home defeat in the space of four days following their midweek setback at the hands of Sheffield United.
There was very little to choose between the two teams all afternoon, with defences on top and goalscoring opportunities few and far between until the closing stages.
Elijah Adebayo fashioned Luton's first opportunity in the opening five minutes, but while his long-range shot was on target, it lacked the power needed to seriously test Anthony Patterson, who was handed his maiden call-up to the England Under-21 squad earlier this week.
Bell threatened to ask another question of Patterson shortly after, but the Luton defender's dribble into the area was halted by a perfectly-timed sliding tackle from Luke O'Nien.
Sunderland had not threatened at all at that stage, but the hosts came within inches of making a breakthrough in the 17th minute. Jack Clarke pulled the ball back to Dan Neil after breaking down the left-hand side, and from the corner of the 18-yard box, the Black Cats midfielder curled a fine effort against the outside of the right-hand post.
That was pretty much that in terms of goalscoring efforts before the interval, although Luton were indebted to Gabe Osho for a superb defensive header that saw him clear Patrick Roberts' whipped cross from under his own crossbar.
The action cranked up a notch or two after the break, with Luton claiming the lead six minutes after the interval.
Patterson made a fine save to push away a low effort from Doughty, but the Sunderland goalkeeper was found wanting when the Luton wing-back fired in another strike 60 seconds later.
Having been rolled the ball from a short free-kick, Doughty drilled an effort through a host of bodies that appeared to catch Patterson unsighted. The 22-year-old goalkeeper got a hand to the ball, but could only help it into the net.
Sunderland responded positively to falling behind, but while O'Nien found the target after a corner dropped into his path, Ethan Horvath responded with a smart low save.
Joe Gelhardt dragged a shot wide moments later as the Black Cats continued to press, and the hosts' persistence was rewarded when Bell was adjudged to have tugged down Amad as he broke into the area. Amad stepped up, and levelled from the spot.
Luton's Rob Edwards:
"It's very frustrating. Sunderland are a very good team, and I'm not saying they didn't deserve anything from the game, but we were 1-0 up and the equaliser was from a wrong decision.
"It was. I've been in and spoken to the officials and they've explained their decision-making and the reasons behind it. They don't have the benefit of replays or VAR to get those decisions right, but these are big games and that was a huge moment.
"It changed the dynamics of the game completely because it got 30,000 fans on their feet and going nuts for their team, and changed the belief within the players as well.
"They put about 20 forwards on who are all good players, and it seemed like the Red Arrows coming at us then. We had to dig in. We went from getting three points if the decision had been right to a position where it could easily have been none because we were hanging on."
Sunderland's Tony Mowbray:
"I think we were unfortunate to be behind. I didn't think either team looked like they were going to score at any moment, and we needed more energy on the pitch but we got there in the end.
"Whether it was a penalty or it wasn't a penalty, I don't really go in there and watch stuff. My opinion is that I don't think we deserved to lose the game, and we didn't, so we'll take a point against the team, bar Burnley, that have accrued the most points away from home, and move on.
"I just feel the team we had is what we are at the moment. We are missing certain ingredients that would make us a really good team. But we have to get on with it.
"I don't want to keep moaning about who's not available. We've got the team we've got, so let's keep going, trying to find a way and be competitive."