Sunderland facing ‘three cup finals’ after falling back into drop zone, says Jermain Defoe

Jermain Defoe steps up to convert his penalty leveller

Jermain Defoe steps up to convert his penalty leveller

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Jermain Defoe has labelled the finale to Sunderland’s campaign as “three cup finals” as the Black Cats’ survival bid faces going to the wire.

Despite Sunderland getting out of jail with a 1-1 draw at Stoke City on Saturday, the Black Cats still fell back into the relegation zone after Newcastle’s victory over Crystal Palace.

However, with Sunderland still boasting a game in hand over the Magpies, there was a positive mood in the dressing room afterwards at coming away with a point which could prove to be crucial.

“Obviously, it would have been nice to get all three points,” added the England international ahead of encounters against Chelsea, Everton and Watford in the final eight days of the season.

“But the manager has always said if you can’t win the games, make sure you get a point. At the end of the season, they all add up.

“Everyone is fighting to stay in the Premier League, and we’ll just keep it going.

“All the last three games are cup finals, but the lads are fighting until the end.”

Defoe had no doubts that referee Craig Pawson made the right decision in awarding Sunderland a last-gasp penalty at the Britannia Stadium, even if the Black Cats rode their luck to earn a share of the spoils.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes branded the penalty award as “soft” while Geoff Cameron - who was punished for a slight push on Defoe - insisted that he had made no contact with the England international.

But Defoe said: “It was 100 per cent a penalty, although it’s always nice to get an opportunity like that to get a point.

“I’ve always said that when you’re scrapping for results, then you need a bit of luck and we got that with the penalty.

“It came to me in the box and I turned, and as soon as I went down, I knew it was a penalty.

“You just have to stay relaxed and focused, and score, it’s as simple as that.

“I was nervous, but when it hits the back of the net, it’s a great feeling.”