Sunderland lifted themselves off the bottom of the Premier League – for the time being at least.
Seven days after contriving to lose a 2-0 lead to go down 3-2 to Crystal Palace, the Black Cats battled back to draw 1-1 with West Brom thanks to Patrick van Aanholt’s 83rd-minute equaliser.
What is there to learn from Saturday’s first point at the Stadium of Light?
Favourites for relegation, they maybe, but Sunderland’s spirit shone through.
Having gone behind to another soft goal on the break, if well executed, the home side could have lost heart.
How many times do West Brom concede hard-earned leads? Not many.
Only Arsenal and Man United have kept more Premier League clean sheets than the Baggies since Tony Pulis took charge at the Hawthorns, so when Nacer Chadli put Brom ahead, a 1-0 away win looked inevitable.
But Sunderland, having frittered away six points this season from points-winning positions, showed they have the bottle to fight back.
David Moyes has the knack.
When the unfortunate Jan Kirchhoff was stretchered off, it looked a case of bringing on Jack Rodwell or Lynden Gooch?
No. Moyes instead brought van Aanholt off a bench he had banished him to after last week’s giveaway to Crystal Palace.
It was an inspired move.
van Aanholt, playing wide left rather than left back, got forward as we know he can and was involved as Jermain Defoe had a good second-half chance.
His moment of magic came when he won possession in his own half to find Didier Ndong before galloping forward and getting the ball back in the area to notch the equaliser.
van Aanholt deserves top marks for the start and finish, but credit to Moyes for a bold, incisive move.
John O’Shea’s old head can make a difference:
Papy Djilobodji was left out for the first time in the Premier League with Moyes recalling seasoned campaigner O’Shea, who also regained the captain’s armband.
It has to be said that central defensive partner Lamine Kone did the lion’s share of the defending and clearing, but the Republic of Ireland star’s influence at the back can’t be under-estimated.
Yes, there were a few good saves required by Jordan Pickford and the home goal led a charmed life on a couple of occasions, but O’Shea made a crucial difference.
Jermain Defoe IS human:
There can be few, if any, more potent finishes in the Premier League than this man.
That he had a rare off-day can’t be held against him.
Played in superbly by Duncan Watmore in the fourth minute, he pulled his shot just wide of Ben Foster’s right-hand stick and in the second half had an effort blocked by Jonny Evans.
To Defoe’s credit it did not affect him and he played in Wahbi Khazri late on and with the last kick of the match was not far off the mark with a 20-odd yard free-kick.
Duncan Watmore is not just a running machine:
The BBC – and who am I to question the nation’s broadcaster – reported that the young forward ran 5.8KM on Saturday.
But he was more than a head-down, run-all day workhorse.
The 22-year-old set up the best two chances of the afternoon with his right foot. First, he hared forward before slipping through a defence-splitting ball to Defoe, which the striker placed just wide, then burst into the box to cross with the outside of his boot for van Aanholt to convert eight minutes from time.
Duncan, take a bow.
Goals are needed from elsewhere:
Sunderland have scored six Premier goals – and they have been provided by two men, Defoe (four) and van Aanholt (two).
In mitigation, the Cats are creating more, though not loads, but they must broaden the list of goal scorers.
With Khazri back in the side, perhaps dead-ball situations might be an area for Moyes to target, especially give their next two opponents, Stoke and West Ham, have proven susceptible in that regard.