Sunday, 6 January 2013

Craig Gardnder Rescues Sunderland From Cup Shock

Chung-Yong LeeCraig Gardnder saved Sunderland from the shame of a giant-killing with the goal of the Third Round.

The midfielder hammered home a sensational strike to cap a Black Cats fightback and keep alive Martin O’Neill’s dream of scratching a 40-year itch.

Bolton were on course for an upset when Chung-Yong Lee and Marvin Sordell fired them two up.

But sub Connor Wickham snatched one back and Gardner stunned Dougie Freedman’s Wanderers 15 minutes from time.

His effort means O’Neill can continue to talk up an FA Cup triumph – 40 years on from Ian Porterfield’s legendary Wembley winner over Leeds. 

Sunderland handed the hosts the initiative when Carlos Cuellar, stuck near his corner flag, turned and rolled a ball across the face of his box to Lee who was waiting to pounce.

The South Korean could not believe his luck as he found the empty net.

Sunderland responded with a Gardner drive that tested Andy Lonergan but Bolton doubled their lead early in the second half.

Lee’s corner was initially cleared but Keith Andrews headed back into the danger zone and Sordell cleverly nodded the ball into the bottom corner.

Lonergan produced two brilliant stops to keep out Steven Fletcher headers.

But Wickham, with his first touch, drilled the ball through the ex-Preston keeper’s legs at the far post after a Fletcher shot had been blocked.

Fletcher had a header saved before Gardner finally grabbed the equaliser.

Darren Pratley nodded an Adam Johnson cross straight to the former Birmingham man who smashed a fierce, rising drive through a crowd of players and into the top corner. There was still time for more drama in the dying seconds as Lee cleared a Fletcher effort off the line.

O’Neill said: “I thought it was going to be difficult from the start but we certainly contributed to our potential downfall.

“We were really sloppy in the first half. But it was a proper FA Cup tie and came to the boil in the last 35 minutes.

“Roared on by the crowd, we fought back magnificently.

“We want to give the competition its proper merit and try to do well in it – 5,000 people paid hard-earned money to come down and see us.”

Freedman said: “I’m thrilled with the result.

“We showed great commitment at the end to defend for our lives.

“I thought we controlled the game for 60 minutes playing the style of football I like to play.

“It was a great tie, great to watch. I’m looking forward to the replay.”

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