Sunderland's Fabio Borini relishing big game with Everton
A five-goal return is hardly an eye-popping return from Fabio Borini in his second coming at Sunderland, particularly after the Black Cats shelled out Â£10million to bring the Italian back to Wearside last summer.
For all Borini has repeatedly professed his desire to play as a central striker – and found the net from that position against Chelsea last weekend – he is not cut from the same cloth of natural finishers as Jermain Defoe.
It’s why successive Sunderland managers have opted to harness Borini’s industry in a wide role, rather than asking him to lead the line on a regular basis.
But while Borini’s goals may be sporadic, he unquestionably has the knack of finding the net at those vital times in the make-or-break games.
He did it during his loan spell in 2013-14; four goals coming in the final five games of the Great Escape, plus deliriously-celebrated strikes in both the Capital One Cup semi-final and final, and the two derby victories over Newcastle United.
History is repeating itself. In the last two months, Borini has grabbed a stunning last-gasp equaliser against Crystal Palace, opened the scoring at relegation rivals Norwich and put Sunderland back on level terms against Chelsea.
It’s no coincidence. Borini admits that he relishes the nerve-wracking games which turn the stomachs of supporters, albeit that bodes well for Sunderland’s chances of securing Premier League survival against Everton tonight.
Borini said: “I like the pressure. I play football to take the pressure.
“These games are the ones with the biggest pressure and that’s where I’ve performed the best.
“It’s nice to score the goals.
“But when we played higher up the pitch (against Chelsea) and changed the shape, I was able to play a bit more in the middle and scored the goal.
“It was a lot better for me.”
Borini’s habit of iconic goals, coupled with his work-rate, continue to make him a crowd favourite on the terraces.
The 25-year-old even acted as a conductor for the Stadium of Light against his former club Chelsea, as the decibel levels reached ear-splitting levels.
But Borini is not alone in being motivated by a boisterous home crowd.
With Sunderland expecting a second successive capacity attendance tonight, Sam Allardyce’s men have united in calling for a repeat of the white-hot atmosphere against Chelsea.
“We need the atmosphere to be exactly the same on Wednesday, if not even more,” added Borini.
“We need the twelfth man like the fans were on Saturday.
“Like Saturday, I think the first to believe we could do it was the fans, and they transmitted that to us with the singing and the cheering, and that’s unbelievable at this stage of the season.
“But a sell-out crowd is always good to play in front of.
“It would be really nice to have it done before the final day.
“We’re going to try and do it over 90 minutes because it’s better to do it obviously and not bring it to the end, the last breath.”