JACK Colback praised Simon Mignolet’s pivotal contribution in earning Sunderland an FA Cup quarter final replay with Everton.
Phil Bardsley’s stunning first goal of the season provided reward for a rampant opening 20 minutes from Sunderland before nemesis Tim Cahill’s eighth against the Black Cats brought Everton level in an end-to-end first half.
Sunderland found themselves far more on the back foot in a cagey second half, with O’Neill’s side indebted to goalkeeper Mignolet’s double save to deny Nikica Jelavic and John Heitinga.
Colback added: “Simon’s done fantastic and kept us in the cup. We showed our resilience and that’s been part of our success this season. We’ve been hard to beat and hard to break down.
“I didn’t expect the first half to be so open. We’re two similar teams, you look at their record and they haven’t conceded many and vice-versa with us.
“It was good for the neutral that the first half was like that.
“We started the game really well, took it to them and got the goal.
“Maybe we should have kicked on a bit more after that, but they’re a good side and they got the goal back and we had to refocus.
“They were getting forward a lot in the second half and winning a lot of the loose balls. But that’s what you expect from Everton.
“We defended well and tried to hit them on the break, but couldn’t manage many chances in the second half.”