KEIREN WESTWOOD says Sunderland’s players treated the Wear-Tyne derby as a “cup final” after setting aside their relegation worries.
Sunderland moved off the basement yesterday with a first Premier League win of the campaign to end a harrowing run of six successive top flight defeats.
But goalkeeper Westwood has revealed how Sunderland’s measly points tally was pushed to one side in their pre-match preparations, with Gus Poyet’s side solely focusing on getting the better of the neighbours.
And while the Republic of Ireland international acknowledges that Sunderland’s league position remains highly precarious, he believes derby joy will serve as a platform for the Black Cats.
Westwood told the Echo: “This wasn’t about being bottom of the league or conceding however many or having one point.
“This was about Newcastle versus Sunderland.
“It was massive, it was a cup final.
“We had to go out and enjoy it and have no regrets because there’s been a few from the team this season.
“Form goes out of the window. This game was all about that 95 minutes and thankfully we came out on top.
“It’s a good start, we’re off the bottom and onwards and upwards now.
“Our situation’s still dire, we’re not getting carried away.
“But we worked our socks off and we got our just rewards really.”
Westwood believes Sunderland merited the 2-1 victory after battling back from Mathieu Debuchy’s equaliser just before the hour mark.
Sunderland looked to be wilting in the closing stages, but Poyet’s side secured a priceless victory when substitute Fabio Borini drove the ball into the top corner with six minutes remaining.
“I think we deserved it,” added Westwood.
“We were on the back foot a little bit in the second half, but it was a goal of the highest quality really, right in the top corner.
“I was screaming at (Steven) Fletcher because he took a quick free-kick when we were under pressure.
“But Borini has banged one in.
“And then I wouldn’t even say we were hanging on. We held our shape quite well and when the four minutes injury time went up, we held the ball in the corner really well.
“We saw out the game comfortably which was nice.”