Everton 1-1 Sunderland: Sunday Mirror match report
Published 21:31 17/03/12 By Simon Mullock
It wasn’t quite Jim Montgomery 1973.
But if Sunderland go on to lift the FA Cup, then the double save Simon Mignolet produced at Goodison Park will also deserve a place in Wearside folklore.
Martin O’Neill’s men were resisting a furious late Everton onslaught when Leon Osman floated in the kind of cross that keeps goalkeepers awake at night.
Johnny Heitinga met the ball with a textbook downward header destined for the bottom corner.
Mignolet threw himself to his right to produce a stunning stop. But as the ball broke loose towards Marouane Fellaini, Goodison fans were already celebrating a winning goal that would take them to a Wembley semi-final.
Mignolet seemed stranded. But the 6ft 4in Belgian was on his feet in the blink of an eye to keep out his compatriot’s close-range follow-up.
Boss Bob Stokoe skipped across the Wembley turf in tracksuit, trilby and raincoat to celebrate with Montgomery for the double save that broke Leeds’ hearts 39 years ago.
It became an iconic image and even O’Neill evoked the spirit of Monty when he said afterwards: “I can see why there will be references to Jim Montgomery.
“What happened in 1973 is part of Sunderland’s history and without question our keeper has produced a world-class double save.
“It was a magnificent effort by the young lad, but we are still a million miles away from winning the FA Cup.”
O’Neill loves his history and will know the Black Cats have to beat Everton for the first time in 17 meetings to reach the semi-finals.
At least Lee Cattermole and Stephane Sessegnon will be free from suspension for the replay on Tuesday week.
Sunderland’s name on the Cup? Wearside engravers would have started thinking about sharpening their tools from the eighth minute, when Craig Gardner’s penalty-area check on Royston Drenthe went unpunished.
Gardner took none of the ball and all of the Dutchman, but referee Andre Marriner turned a blind eye despite getting the best view in the house.
That kind of good fortune can often define winners and losers on these occasions.
And the home side were complaining again in the second half when the officials decided that when John O’Shea thrust out an arm to deflect away Nikica Jelavic’s header, it was unintentional.
Sunderland also had reason to be less than cheerful.
O’Neill was right to complain that Fraizer Campbell was fouled in the build-up to the 23rd-minute equaliser.
But referee Marriner once again failed to do his duty and when Jelavic met Leighton Baines’ cross from the left with a downward header, Tim Cahill did the rest with an instinctive flick of his brow from six yards.
“There was a clear foul when they equalised,” said O’Neill. “The referee did well overall, but he missed that.”
Sunderland had taken the lead in the 12th minute with a thundering drive from Phil Bardsley that sent the 6,000 fans who had travelled from the north-east into ecstasy.
Jack Colback sensed the home defence expected him to deliver a cross into the box as he shaped to take a free-kick from wide on the right.
But he worked a short pass to Bardsley, who let fly with a low rocket from 25 yards that flew past Tim Howard.
It was to be Sunderland’s only real effort on target. At the other end, Mignolet fisted away another Cahill header, then saw Sylvain Distin fire the rebound high and wide.
The closest Everton came to a winner was when Drenthe’s dipping free-kick from 25 yards shivered the bar.
Assistant Toffees boss Steve Round said: “Sunderland will now be favourites, but Everton do have this habit of upsetting the odds.”