STEPHANE Sessegnon was Sunderland’s FA Cup hero last night as he decided a titanic fourth-round struggle with neighbours Middlesbrough.
The Championship side took the Black Cats to extra-time in last night’s replay. Just as it looked as if a penalty shoot-out would decide which would host Arsenal on February 18, Sessegnon pounced.
Connor Wickham dwelt too long in possession 22 minutes into extra-time, but the tackle put the ball into the path of Sessegnon, who settled the tie.
It was a victory the Premier League side scarcely deserved having been pushed so hard by their North East neighbours.
Sunderland had taken the lead with a wonderful goal from Jack Colback – only the midfielder’s second for the club.
It came during a spell of concerted Black Cats pressure late in the first half. Minutes earlier Matthew Bates had thrown himself in front of a Sessegnon shot, then diverted Michael Turner’s just the right side of his goal.
Boro refused to be beaten and equalised 11 minutes after the break through January signing Lukas Jutkiewicz. The Pole outmuscled Turner as they contested a knock-down from Curtis Main, making his full debut for the Teessiders.
A fully-clothed “streaker” held matters up by idiotically running onto the field after exactly 90 minutes, but could only delay the inevitable extra-time before Sessegnon ensured penalties were avoided.