Sunderland grabbed a survival lifeline as goals from Fabio Borini, Jermain Defoe and Duncan Watmore secured a priceless 3-0 win at relegation rivals Norwich.
Norwich’s next match is in a fortnight against Arsenal and – with Newcastle and Sunderland both playing before them – the Canaries could find themselves in the bottom three by then.
“To be honest, it would be better if we didn’t do it and just stayed up normally”. I think there was a huge amount of pressure on both teams and that didn’t bode well for the game in terms of passing and stuff like that. That did not bode well for an actual game of football and passing.
“It was a bit scrappy at times, but sometimes you’ve got to dig it out”.
“Our front three have scored a goal each, which very important for us”. “They’ve said one result has changed the whole last few games of the season – one result – so I only hope that’s the same this time round”, Allardyce said.
“We need to win games – that’s always been the case”. We had more of the ball.
Aston Villa were relegated at the weekend, but three points separates the other three teams going into the final stretch of the season.
“There is a long way to go and we are nowhere near saying the job is done – it’s not even half the job – because we have five games left and all of us are still in it. If he deems that to be handling the pressure better then I’m not sure I agree with it”.
While conceding it was a tough call, Neil was frustrated that referee Andre Marriner did not award a free-kick for Jan Kirchhoff’s challenge on Sebastien Bassong in the build-up to Defoe’s killer second. We got the win.
“One way or another, virtually every season, wherever I play, I’m used to it going down to the wire, but these relegation battles are tough mentally and I don’t seem to do mid-table comfort very often”.
“They’ve had that bit more about them at that stage, and a bit of luck too”. Hopefully that can help us.
Defeat would have left Sam Allardyce’s side seven points adrift of Norwich, and safety, but instead they are just a point behind with a superior goal difference and a game in hand. I don’t think Sunderland looked more threatening. “Great pen from Borini.” – former Sunderland winger Kevin Kilbane (@kdkilbane77) has no doubts whether the penalty decision was the right one.
Allardyce said his side’s fine performance calmed fears he had over his side’s ability to bear up under the scrutiny of a Premier League relegation run-in.
Boss Sam Allardyce turned to Watmore at the interval to replace the ineffectual Wahbi Khazi, and that decision paid off with the 22-year-old stretching the Canaries on the counter-attack throughout the second half. But he was calm, composed, round the keeper and in the net. Now we have four big games coming up and we need to do it the hard way.