Bent outshone as Sunderland fight back

Sunderland twice came from behind to earn a 2-2 draw with Aston Villa as Darren Bent endured a disappointing return to the Stadium of Light.

Stephane Sessegnon's 89th-minute header clinched a vital point for Steve Bruce's side after Villa defender Richard Dunne looked to have won the match for the visitors with an 85th-minute goal which made it 2-1.

The thrilling finale came after a game which saw England international Bent -- who infuriated Sunderland fans with his move to Villa in January -- struggle to find the route to goal.

Stiliyan Petrov had shot Villa ahead with a stunning strike on 20 minutes, lashing in after receiving the ball from Alan Hutton for only his sixth goal in 167 games for Villa.

But the Bulgarian international's opener was cancelled out seven minutes before half-time when summer signing Conor Wickham bagged his first Premier League goal.

The Sunderland youngster rifled in a left-footed effort from 10 yards after being played in by Hutton to make it 1-1.

Sunderland continued to live dangerously however and Villa almost regained the lead when Petrov's free-kick rolled across the face of goal but just failed to cross the line.

An injury to Sunderland's Belgian goalkeeper Simon Mignolet opened the door for Black Cats' substitute goalkeeper Keiren Westwood on 52 minutes.

Sunderland got on top and James Collins came to Villa's rescue twice with clearances from dangerous positions.

Sunderland also had claims for a penalty waved away on 63 minutes, believing Hutton had handled as he blocked Nicklas Bendtner's header.

Sebastian Larsson also went close in the 70th minute after Villa defender Chris Herd fouled Bendtner on the edge of the box only to see his curling free-kick saved by Given.

A rare foray from the largely anonymous Bent almost proved costly for Sunderland but the striker was adjuged to have fouled Wes Brown as he sought to break clear.

Westwood then pulled off a fine stop from Bent to keep Sunderland alive, but was unable to do anything about Dunne's goal five minutes from time, the Irish international heading in Petrov's free-kick.

With defeat looking, Sunderland swept back up field and Sessegnon nodded in Larsson's free-kick to level matters.

Source: AFP