Fabio Borini believes Sunderland’s experience of relegation fire-fighting shone through in their make-or-break basement showdown at Norwich City.
Sunderland’s players knew that defeat at Carrow Road on Saturday could have spelt the end for the club’s hopes of remaining in the Premier League after the Canaries threatened to extend the cushion with the Black Cats to seven points.
But instead, it was Sunderland who narrowed the gap with fourth bottom Norwich to a solitary point after Sam Allardyce’s men equalled their biggest win of the campaign.
This is the fourth successive season where Sunderland have faced a last-gasp salvage job to preserve their top flight status and opening goalscorer Fabio Borini is convinced that was a factor in the Black Cats holding their nerve in such a high-stakes encounter.
“We know that there’s such a difference between staying up and going down,” said Borini.
“I think there’s more pressure to fight relegation than to win the league, because you’re playing for so much.
“We’re used to doing these things unfortunately, but we’ll keep going and I’m sure we’ll stay up.
“To be honest, it would be better if we didn’t do it and just stayed up normally!
“But if it’s the case that we have to wait until the end, then we’re going to do it.”
Borini won and converted the penalty which gave Sunderland the lead just four minutes before half-time after the Italian was felled by an ugly challenge from Norwich right-back Andre Wisdom.
Norwich boss Alex Neil felt the spot-kick was a 50-50 call by referee Andre Marriner, yet Borini was in no doubt that it was a penalty.
“No question - he almost broke my leg,” added the ex-Liverpool man, who netted his fourth of the season.
“It was definitely a pen, and I took it as I know how.
“But it’s not just about my goal or the rest.
“We showed we can beat any team if we play football as we know how.”