Sunderland 0 - 0 Burnley: FA Cup tie heads for replay after woeful ninety minutes

If the popular perception is that the FA Cup has lost a little of its lustre and magic, then this wretched game will have done little to boost its glamour.

Saturday, 7th January 2017, 3:48 pm
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 12:03 pm
Neither side could break the deadlock in a poor cup tie

Both managers named strong sides despite being in the midst of a ferocious relegation battle, but the tempo and quality was lacking throughout.

A sparse crowd endured a largely chanceless game, only James Tarkowski's thumping header really threatened to break the deadlock, crashing off the post and away from danger.

Djilibodji jumps for a header

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Perhaps the biggest positive for Sunderland was they turned last weekend's atrocious defensive display at Turf Moor into a creditable clean sheet.

It was a sleepy first half, one in which Sunderland did most of the running but Burnley carved the best of the chances.

Buoyed by the capitulation from the same opponents just a week ago, they targeted the Sunderland back line with a series of crosses and long balls through the middle. They almost went ahead twice in the opening stages, Andre Gray blazing over from close range in the opening ten minutes, while Vito Mannone saved superbly when Vokes ghosted through one-on-one.

Sunderland were putting some together some fluid moves, Adnan Januzaj enjoying his roaming role and bringing others into play. Liberated somewhat from not having to track Roberto Firmino's runs, Fabio Borini was doing his best to move infield and add numbers to the Black Cats attack. Nevertheless, their best openings came when Jack Rodwell twice fired just wide from the edge of the box. The often maligned central midfielder was impressing, doing as much as anyone to dictate the tempo of the game and often releasing Patrick Van Aanholt into dangerous areas on the left flank.

Djilibodji jumps for a header

The hosts wasted a number of corners, however, their tactic of playing it short rarely threatening the well-drilled visitors. Chances were at a premium, but Javier Manquillo should have done better on 38 minutes when Fabio Borini slid him into the byline with a gorgeous pass.

Jermain Defoe was lurking at the back post but the Spaniard's cross was wild, flying out for a throw-in on the far side. It rather summed up a forgettable opening period.

If the second half did not quite see the game catch fire, then Burnley did at least inject some urgency as they started in strong fashion. Twice Donald Love, pushed into an unfamiliar holding midfield role, had to show good awareness to cut the ball out and clear from his own box.

As Sunderland found their feet, Rodwell finally found the target with one of those long-range stingers. Nick Pope had to be alert and quick off his feet to tip the ball over the bar. Rodwell was again at the heart of Sunderland's attack, minutes before that effort surging to the byline and finding Defoe's through ball. Burnley did well to cut out his cross; Sunderland again wasting the following corner .

It had not seemed possible, but the tie actually managed to lose what little bite it had in the latter stages, substitutions from the visitors and a serious of cheap fouls slowing the game to a walking pace. James Tarkowski thumping the bar from a corner with fifteen minutes to play was a rare glimpse of goalmouth action. The visitors were undeniably in the ascendancy, David Moyes reluctant to turn to the host of youngsters on his bench.

They'd have found themselves behind with ten to go had Jason Denayer not slid in to block Jeff Hendrick's drive. The Belgian, back in his strongest position after injury, was a model of positional excellence all afternoon.

The hosts began to flag, their only substitution seeing the veteran centre-half John O'Shea replace Seb Larsson. The visitors should have finished it when Ashley Barnes bounced clear of Papy Djibodji with embarrassing ease, only to fire his effort over the bar.

Sunderland just about held firm and head for a replay their depleted squad could do without.

Sunderland: Mannone, Manquillo, Denayer, Djilibodji, Van Aanholt; Love, Larsson, Januzaj, Borini, Rodwell; Defoe

Subs: Mika, Maja, Asoro, O'Shea (Larsson, 83), Robson, Embleton, Honeyman

Burnley: Pope, Darikwa, Keane, Tarkowski, Ward; Barton, Defour, Gudmundsson, Arfield; Vokes, Gray

Subs: Lowton, Kightly (Arfield, 58), Mee, Barnes (Gray, 70), Robinson, Marney, Hendrick (Gudmundsson, 70)

Bookings: Darikwa, 67. Barton, 87

Attendance: 17,632