Sunderland boss: Stoke City draw is a point won

Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio
Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio

A POINT won, not two lost, was how Paolo Di Canio viewed last night’s game against Stoke.

And he says the desperately hard-fought for draw could yet be the difference between going down and staying up for Sunderland this season.

“It’s a massive point for us, and the way it came makes it even more massive,” he said.

“Imagine if we had lost this game?

“The pressure would have been so much greater on us than it will be against Southampton this weekend.

“Obviously, much depends on what happens with Wigan against Swansea but getting this point is vital for us.

“We still have our destiny in our hands.

“We are still in a better position than Newcastle United and Norwich City. “If we win our games - and we know it is difficult – then we will stay up and that’s all we can ask in our situation.”

Minutes earlier, he had witnessed a Sunderland side, already trailing and reduced to 10 men on the half-hour, fight heroically to salvage a draw from a game they seemed certain to lose.

And the Sunderland head coach hailed the efforts of players who refused to let their heads drop in the most challenging of situations.

“It wasn’t easy for us – we gave an easy goal away and then we had Craig Gardner’s sending off,” he reflected.

“In some ways we are a masochistic team – we seem to need to get our points the hard way.

“But I have to be happy with the way we played in the second half.

“We showed tremendous courage to come back and restrict Stoke to so little in the way of goalscoring chances.

“We showed great passion and desire and that was united with the amazing power of the Stadium of Light.

“We also saw the improved physical condition of the likes of Adam Johnson, James McClean and Danny Graham, who kept on going for so long, and these little things will be very important for us.

“I’m very happy with the point and in the last 15 minutes of the game, I saw the team I wanted to see playing for Sunderland - we might even have won it.

“We knew we had to show desire in front of our home fans and the players were good in what they did.

“They showed a fantastic reaction and I’m very pleased because this point in my opinion will be so important at the end of the season.”

“Now, the Southampton game this coming weekend is like a Champions League final for us.

“It will be crucial to our destiny.

“If we win it, I’m presuming we will stay up.”