FA Cup - Black Cats leave it late to down Boro
The match looked destined for penalties with the teams locked at 1-1 thanks to goals from Jack Colback and Lukas Jutkiewicz but Stephane Sessegnon reacted well with minutes remaining to fire home after Connor Wickham’s shot deflected back into his path.
In a predictably cagey opening, the game took some time to spring to life. Fraizer Campbell found Sebastian Larsson wide on the right but his shot flashed wide when he probably should have cut it back to his supplier.
Having soaked up the majority of pressure, Boro then nearly went ahead through an opportunistic strike from Seb Hines, who got his foot to Tony McMahon’s cross only for Simon Mignolet to tip over. Jutkiewicz headed just over from the resultant corner.
Sessegnon and Kieran Richardson then combined to set up Michael Turner but Matthew Bates came across excellently to block his shot. Minutes later, the visitors were ahead. Campbell rose well on the edge of the box to head down John O’Shea’s long ball into the path of Colback, whose thunderous strike ended in the net via the crossbar.
Stunned into action, Middlesbrough were almost on level terms direct from the restart as McMahon’s low drive was destined for the corner but for a magnificent goalline clearance from Phil Bardsley. And the visitors were the more relieved to hear the half-time whistle after Migniolet did well to turn Curtis Main’s shot around the post.
Sunderland almost doubled their lead at the start of the second half, Turner heading over from James McClean’s pinpoint cross. But it was Boro who looked the more urgent to get back on terms and they had their reward when Jutkiewicz latched onto Main's knockdown to rifle a low shot past Mignolet.
The visitors almost won the tie in normal time when Bardsley saw his shot cannon back off the far post with Steele beaten but after more than 180 minutes of play, the match would be decided by extra time or penalties.
Despite weary legs on either side, both teams had their chances. Craig Gardner headed over Larsson’s free kick from yards out before Boro’s big chance saw Justin Hoyte evade Richardson and pick out Marvin Emnes. His blocked shot reached McMahon, who snatched at the effort and fired over.
It seemed likely that penalties would eventually settle this marathon Tees-Wear Cup derby but for Sessegnon’s late, late strike.