Ellis Simms nets injury-time winner for Sunderland against Blackburn
Ellis Simms slotted home a stoppage-time winner as Sunderland claimed a dramatic 2-1 win over Blackburn at the Stadium of Light.
Simms left the bench in the closing stages of the game to make a decisive intervention as he found the net following a square ball from Dan Ballard.
His composed finish settled things after Ross Stewart had scored a goal at either end.
Promotion hopefuls Blackburn would have been hopeful of another victory when Stewart’s deflected header found his own net in the 18th minute, but the Sunderland striker was celebrating at the other end just four minutes later as he converted a penalty to level the scores.
Stewart was returning to the starting line-up for the first time since suffering a thigh injury in early September, having made a goalscoring intervention from the substitutes’ bench in the previous weekend’s draw at Hull.
The Scotsman was at the heart of both of the key moments during the first half, scoring at either end as the scores were level at the interval.
Blackburn’s opener came in the 18th minute, with Tyler Morton’s in-swinging free-kick causing panic within the Sunderland defence.
Stewart tried to clear with a stooping header, but instead of getting the ball away from danger, the Black Cats striker found his own net via a deflection of a combination of Dennis Cirkin and Daniel Ayala.
It was harsh on Sunderland’s leading scorer, but he made amends four minutes later as he won and successfully dispatched a spot-kick.
Patrick Roberts’ failure to control a bouncing pass in the area saw the ball bounce into Stewart’s path and, as he shaped to shoot, the striker was sent tumbling by John Buckley’s awkward challenged.
Stewart stepped up, and claimed his seventh goal of the season, an impressive return given that he was sidelined for the best part of three months.
The first half was a helter-skelter affair, with neither side able to exert any real control, although Sunderland were generally the more threatening team with the hosts going close again on the stroke of half-time.
The ball broke to Roberts on the edge of the area after Jack Clarke’s mazy run was halted, but the forward dragged a low effort wide of the right-hand post.
Sunderland were forced into a change at the start of the second half, with Trai Hume replacing the injured Cirkin, and the substitute full-back immediately went close with a strike from the left of the box that Blackburn goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski clawed away.
Kaminski made routine saves from both Stewart and Amad Diallo to ensure the scores remained level, with Sunderland goalkeeper Anthony Patterson producing an important stop at the other end with 18 minutes remaining as he kept out Morton’s low shot.
Simms’ winner came in the first minute of stoppage time, with the Everton loanee prodding home with the outside of his boot after Ballard squared the ball into his path.
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