DICK ADVOCAAT is glad that Sunderland’s fate is still in their own hands after giving their survival hopes a vital boost with victory over Southampton.
Third-bottom Sunderland remain a point adrift of safety, despite a 2-1 win over Southampton today, yet are now one of five teams separated by just two points, with what appears to be just one remaining place in the drop zone to avoid.
The Black Cats also have a game in hand on all of their drop rivals – other than Hull who host Arsenal on Monday – with Advocaat now confident that he can achieve his remit of keeping the club in the Premier League.
“We have to believe in it,” he said.
“We’ve played five games now (under Advocaat) and got seven points.
“There are still four to go, so everything is still open.
“We still have everything in our own hands and that’s the most important thing.
“Knowing the results of the other teams, it was really necessary to win (against Southampton).”
Two Jordi Gomez penalties were sufficient to secure victory against the 10 man Saints, albeit Sunderland didn’t make life easy for themselves.
Sunderland conceded an equaliser within two minutes of Gomez’s opener and were inevitably racked by nerves during a finale which saw Costel Pantilimon make a crucial save in stoppage time.
But Advocaat was wholesome in his praise for the commitment and togetherness on show from his players.
“It was a real team performance and they worked so hard to get the result,” he added.
“We had enough chances to secure the result sooner, but you know against a team like Southampton with very good players, they can score out of nothing.
“I was really happy when the final whistle went!
“You could see that Southampton are a good side who are still playing for Europe.
“For them, it was still important to get the points, so they gave nothing away.
“But straight from the beginning, we showed them that they would have to fight to get the points.
“We did really well. The fight was great. We can still play better, but with the pressure, we did really well.
“They showed the same fighting spirit as they did against Newcastle, so you see what they can get.”