Sunderland 2 Aston Villa 2: Chris Young’s verdict

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TYPICAL Darren Bent. Barely a kick all game and from nothing, the opportunity emerges for a potential match-winner.

When Bent received the return ball from Gabby Agbonlahor in the 72nd minute of Saturday’s encounter, that ominous feeling gurgled in the stomachs of the Sunderland faithful, who had ventured to the Stadium of Light half-expecting such an outcome.

Bent’s effort was sure to ripple the net and even if he made good on his promise not to celebrate, Wearside’s fallen idol would have had the last laugh against the bile thrown his way since January’s get (even more) rich quick exit.

Like the penalties spurned on his return to White Hart Lane in red and white though, Bent choked when his moment to haunt the former employers arrived.

Credit to Premier League debutant Keiren Westwood for spreading himself and blocking Bent’s effort smartly with his legs.

But the chance was all about Bent’s mental state, not goalkeeping heroics. Following an afternoon of ceaseless jeering towards his motives for leaving Wearside, the England international couldn’t muster any conviction behind his right-footed swipe at goal.

It summed up a less than happy return for a player, who had always prided himself on his positive relationship with those on the terraces – persistently professing his love for the North East and how he thrived on the wave of adoration which lapped at his feet.

If Bent had kidded himself into thinking Sunderland supporters had bought his tepid excuses for joining Aston Villa, he was immediately set right.

A chorus of boos greeted his emergence from the tunnel for the warm-up, with an even more vociferous crescendo reserved for the moments prior to kick-off.

But the big problem for the Stadium of Light, when what eventually became an entertaining spectacle got underway, was that the opportunities to further jeer Bent were minimal as he was barely involved.

READ the full verdict in Monday’s Echo