Sam Allardyce hailed Sunderland’s resilience after seeing them bounce back to snatch the first draw of his reign against Bournemouth.
The Black Cats started dreadfully and deservedly trailed to record signing Benik Afobe’s 13th-minute header, and had it not been for keeper Vito Mannone – who would not have been happy with his attempt to keep out the £10million man’s effort – they might have been further in arrears.
However, they fought back to level in first-half stoppage time through Patrick van Aanholt and might have collected all three points had keeper Artur Boruc not managed to repel Billy Jones’ second-half header and secure a 1-1 draw.
A relieved Allardyce said: “We didn’t play well for 20 minutes – we played very poorly for 20 minutes, maybe 25 minutes, after they scored and Vito kept us in the game at that stage.
“The good thing from my point of view is that I have seen us go under at that stage so many times since I have been here, but we stayed in it and because we stayed in it, it allowed us to play our way back into the game, gladly.
“It was a fantastic time to score a goal and it lifted us and in the second half, anybody could have won it. It was end-to-end, either side could have won it.
“We thought we’d got the goal. When Billy headed the ball, I thought, ‘That’s going to be in’. Good save and it wasn’t to be for the three points, but it’s our first point gained coming from behind.”
The draw leaves Sunderland in 19th place and three points adrift of safety, and Bournemouth 15th, four points clear of the drop zone.
It was also their first draw in 16 outings since Allardyce replaced Dick Advocaat, although he insisted that was not his target for the day.
He said: “I wasn’t craving a draw – well, I was craving a draw after 25 minutes, I must admit. But when we played our way back into the game, like I said, I was really pleased about the recovery.”