Gary Rowell column - Sunderland have knack of winning when it matters after Everton joy

Jermaine Defoe celebrates his goal 2-0 win away to Everton. Picture by FRANK REID
Jermaine Defoe celebrates his goal 2-0 win away to Everton. Picture by FRANK REID
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IF SUNDERLAND could start a campaign as well as they finish them, maybe eventually we could have a half-decent season.

Just like last year, we’re finding ways to get wins at the end of the season, just when it’s needed the most.

A performance that might not have been of the highest quality, but showed total commitment, spirit and work-rate

Yes, Sunderland rode their luck against Everton on Saturday and both goals had an element of good fortune about them, but in our position, does anyone really care how the wins are achieved?

Dick Advocaat challenged his players before the game to show how much they want to stay in the Premier League, and they answered with a performance that might not have been of the highest quality, but showed total commitment, spirit and work-rate.

That’s what the fans have wanted to see most of all.

Everton might have won most of the statistics - corners, shots etc - but they didn’t win the only that matters, putting the ball in the net, as they couldn’t find a way past the outstanding Costel Pantilimon and a back four that kept the dangerous Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley quiet.

Everybody loves a trier and nobody has given more in Sunderland’s last couple of wins than Danny Graham, so it was fitting that he should get the all-important first goal and I doubt he’ll be too bothered if it doesn’t win goal of the month.

It was also good to see Jermain Defoe on the scoresheet for the first time since his derby winner, and while his goal against Newcastle was of a higher quality and will be remembered for much longer, any striker will tell you they all count the same.

After years of going to Goodison Park and leaving with just the match programme, it’s recently become a happy hunting ground for Sunderland with two successive wins.

Saturday’s victory wasn’t about great technical football, or moments of individual brilliance, but more about hard-work, determination, a refusal to buckle under pressure and being able to take advantage of the breaks when they came their way.

In many ways that sort of win is more satisfying, as nothing came easy for Sunderland, and it was a case of perspiration over inspiration to achieve an unlikely win.