How Sunderland U21s beat West Ham with dramatic penalty shootout to book semi-final place

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How it played out as Sunderland’s under-21s side reached the semi-finals of Premier League 2 by beating West Ham on penalties.

Sunderland came from behind three times before beating West Ham 5-3 on penalties to reach the semi-finals of Premier League 2.

Tom Watson converted the winning spot kick after Ellis Taylor had cancelled out Gideon Kodua’s opener to take the game to extra-time. Caden Kelly and Tom Watson then scored dramatic equalisers as Graeme Murty’s side came from 2-1 and 3-2 down to force a shootout in the additional 30 minutes. The young Black Cats will face Reading in the last four of the competition.

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Sunderland recalled Chris Rigg to their starting XI, following a 4-1 win over Wolves in the previous round, with the teenager replacing Marshall Burke in midfield. West Ham, who finished second in the Premier League 2 table, started with teenage forward George Earthy in their front line, two days after he came off the bench to score for the senior side against Luton in the Premier League.

Still, the first half produced few clear-cut chances for either team, with West Ham seeing more of the ball. Sunderland maintained a good shape out of possession against the visitors’ 3-4-3 formation, while Tom Watson’s low cross from the left in the 30th minute was just too close to Hammers goalkeeper Jacob Knightbridge.

The game started to open up just before the interval as Caden Kelly forced a save from Knightbridge, before West Ham forward Callum Marshall was denied by Sunderland stopper Adam Richardson. The hosts then fell behind five minutes before the interval when Kaegan Casey’s header from a corner was converted by Kodua from close range.

It was a similar story in the second half as Sunderland played some neat football but often overhit the final pass when they’d worked the ball into promising areas. Rigg was then withdrawn in the 70th minute, when he looked in a bit of discomfort following a tackle to stop a West Ham counter attack.

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Sunderland’s second-half pressure eventually paid off after Bainbridge and Watson combined well down the left. The ball then broke to Taylor on the opposite flank, before the full-back fired a shot into the top corner seven minutes from time to make it 1-1.

Extra-time turned into an enthralling contest with Patrick Kelly putting the hosts ahead with a low shot in the first period. Caden Kelly then drew Sunderland level with a stunning curling effort in the 111th minute.

The drama wasn’t over, though, as Oliver Bainbridge conceded a penalty, which West Ham midfielder Lewis Osford fired against the post. The visitors looked to have won it again when Callum Marshall scrambled the ball home three minutes from the end, only for Watson to equalise a minute later.

West Ham’s Keenan Appiah-Forson was the only player not to score in the shootout, with Richardson saving his low effort, before Watson scored the winner.

Sunderland U21s XI: Richardson Taylor, Fieldson, Bell, Bainbridge, Middlemas, Rigg (Ryder, 70), Kelly, Jones, Watson, Ogunsuyi

Subs not used: Chibueze, Lavery, J. Jones, Tutierov

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