Roberts’ stunning late goal secures Sunderland draw with Watford
Patrick Roberts scored a stunning stoppage-time equaliser as Sunderland mounted a brilliant late fightback to draw 2-2 with Watford and keep their play-off hopes alive.
The Black Cats were heading for a home defeat to the out-of-form Hornets, who were without Joao Pedro as he closes in on a move to Premier League side Brighton.
Christian Kabasele and Ryan Porteous headed Watford into a two-goal lead but Sunderland came fighting back, with Luke O’Nien halving the deficit before Roberts’ moment of brilliance deep into stoppage time.
The draw extends Sunderland’s unbeaten run to eight games and leaves them two points behind sixth-placed Millwall.
Had Sunderland lost, then their play-off hopes would have disappeared if Blackburn beat Luton on Monday night, but now Tony Mowbray’s men know they will head to Preston on the final day still in with a chance of making the top six. Watford remain 13th.
On the back of their impressive win at West Brom last time out, Sunderland started well, with Manchester United loanee Amad Diallo flashing a free-kick just wide after 10 minutes.
Against the run of play, Watford took the lead with their first effort through a thumping Kabasele header from an Imran Louza corner on 17 minutes.
Sunderland probed as they looked for a leveller and Roberts went close when he cut in from the right and fired just wide 10 minutes before the interval.
But the visitors were dangerous on the break and almost doubled their lead in the final stages of the first half when a cross from the right was only cleared as far as Ken Sema, whose shot from the edge of the box was well blocked by Pierre Ekwah.
Anthony Patterson made a brilliant reaction save to keep out a deflected Ismaila Sarr cross in the early stages of the second half.
Then, at the other end, it was Daniel Bachmann’s turn, the Watford keeper denying Trai Hume a headed leveller.
Sunderland dominated possession but Watford were happy to put men behind the ball and defend their lead. And the visitors looked to have put the game out of Sunderland’s reach when Porteous headed in a corner on 69 minutes to double Watford’s lead.
Sunderland gave themselves hope just a minute later when O’Nien poked home substitute Alex Pritchard’s volley from close range, and the home side threw bodies forward in search of an equaliser.
And with their 23rd shot on goal in the fifth minute of added time, they salvaged a draw when Jack Clarke teed up ex-Manchester City forward Roberts and he found the top corner from the edge of the box.