Sunderland 2-2 Hibernian: Hosts fight back after Khazri and Lens put Black Cats ahead

Lens put Sunderland 2-0 ahead
Lens put Sunderland 2-0 ahead
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Hibernian fought back from two goals down to secure a draw after a feisty second half at Easter Road.

Sunderland ended a sedate first half in the lead, Wahbi Khazri sparkling throughout and scoring with a fine volley.

Simon Grayson made 11 changes at the break and the new look side, featuring Lee Cattermole at the base of midfield, took complete control and a 2-0 lead when Jeremain Lens fired home in first Sunderland appearance for a year.

An uncertain Black Cats back line was picked apart twice in under five minutes, however, as Martin Boyle and Simon Murray levelled the game.

A strong Cattermole challenged on Marvin Bartley then sparked a melee in the centre circle as a friendly that had been predictably pedestrian ended fiercely competitive. Hibernian might well have stolen a win, with Adam Matthews preventing a third with a sliding interception at the back post and substitute Oli Shaw rattling the bar.

Hibs, lead by the impressive and highly rated John McGinn in midfield, looked impressive in possession during the first half but Sunderland always looked to have the greater firepower with Josh Maja and Wahbi Khazri threatening on the counter.

Playing in a marauding role from the left flank, the Tunisian was at the heart of every attack, hitting the bar with a deflected free kick in the opening stages. That came moments before a moving sixth minute tribute from all corners of the ground in honour of Bradley Lowery.

Vito Mannone made some firm saves, particularly from Martin Boyle on the stroke of half-time, but the Black Cats were worthy of their half time lead, Khazri firing home after an excellent Billy Jones cross.

The new look side, switching to 4-3-3 from a 4-2-3-1 in which Jack Rodwell had played as the number ten, impressed, with Lee Cattermole a central figure.

A second goal, sparked by a superb backheel from Rees Greenwood, looked like it would lead to a procession but Hibernian fought back well and made the Sunderland backline look pedestrian. First Martin Boyle scored as the Black Cats were caught out by a quick free-kick, before David Gray crossed from the byline for Simon Murray to score.

Grayson's side were perhaps lucky to end the game level but the Sunderland boss will have been relieved to get a number of key players back in action. O'Shea, Ndong and Elliott Embleton also made their first pre-season appearances,