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Sunderland grateful to Van Aanholt but still winless

Sunderland (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Substitute Patrick van Aanholt scored with just seven minutes left to earn struggling Sunderland a 1-1 draw at home to West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Saturday.

It looked as if Nacer Chadli’s classy first-half opener would give the Baggies all three points until Dutchman Van Aanholt, on for the injured Jan Kirchhoff, conjured an equaliser at the Stadium of Light.

The result will come as something of a relief to the Sunderland fans and beleaguered manager David Moyes, but they are still without a win and have only two points from seven matches.

No strangers to a slow start, it is the third time in four seasons that the Black Cats have gone winless through their opening seven games of the campaign, but at least the draw prevented them from equalling their own record for the worst start to a Premier League season.

West Brom had come from behind with a late goal to draw at another struggling side, Stoke City, last time out but on this occasion it looked as if they would hold on for the victory after going in front.

On a sunny day in the north-east of England, Jermain Defoe sliced a great early chance wide for the hosts before Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was forced into a good save from Chadli.

However, the Belgian, a summer signing from Tottenham Hotspur, opened the scoring 10 minutes before the break, finishing coolly into the bottom corner after being set up by Matt Phillips.

There was then a huge let-off for Moyes’s side as James McClean — playing against his former club — fluffed his lines after finding himself clean through.

Fortunate to be only one goal down at the break, things got worse for Sunderland early in the second half when German midfielder Kirchhoff had to be taken off to be replaced by Van Aanholt.

Pickford then saved well from Darren Fletcher before the home side began to rally and only a fine block by Jonny Evans stopped Defoe from levelling.

Van Aanholt had been dropped from the starting line-up as Moyes made five changes to his team following last week’s 3-2 home defeat to Crystal Palace, and he perhaps felt he had a point to prove as he grabbed the equaliser.

The former Chelsea player started the move down the left and found Duncan Watmore. He got the ball back to the Dutchman and his scuffed effort went in, the point lifting Sunderland off the bottom at least until Stoke play Manchester United on Sunday.

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