JERMAIN DEFOE was far from the only player responsible for Sunderland’s derby heroics, insists Dick Advocaat.
Defoe’s stunning strike on the stroke of half-time sealed Sunderland’s fifth successive win over Newcastle United, and crucially, moved the Black Cats three points clear of the relegation zone.
It was not only a great goal, but a great team performanceDick Advocaat
However, Advocaat was quick to praise the team effort that was at the heart of Sunderland’s success, with the hosts showing the intensity, pressing and bite which was absent in the final days of Gus Poyet’s reign.
Advocaat pointed to the contribution of right-back Billy Jones, who excelled on his derby bow, despite starting his first Premier League game since January.
“Jermain has worked hard all week and he got his reward, but everybody worked really hard out there – it wasn’t just about him,” said Advocaat.
“It was not only a great goal, but a great team performance.
“It’s unfair just to name Jermain Defoe because we played so well as a unit.
“Billy Jones was playing his first game in 100 years! And there were lots of other players who had exceptional games for us.”
Newcastle didn’t force a save out of Sunderland keeper Costel Pantilimon, or create a clear-cut chance until the final 15 minutes – a period when Advocaat felt the Black Cats’ effort had taken their toll.
However, Advocaat believes that was understandable, with the Sunderland players physically spent in the dressing room afterwards.
“It was not an easy game for us, even though we dominated for the first 75 minutes,” added the ex-Holland manager.
“It only became difficult in the last 15 minutes when we were tiring and they were taking a risk, but a derby is never easy and at any stage it can go wrong for you.
“It’s a great boost for us. If you saw them in the dressing room, they couldn’t walk any more, they were so tired.”
The only downside from yesterday’s encounter was a 10th yellow card of the season for Seb Larsson and a subsequent two-match ban, which will rule him out of the games against Crystal Palace and Stoke.
Advocaat will be hoping that fellow midfielder Jack Rodwell is available after he missed yesterday’s game with a hamstring problem.