‘Game-changer’ Defoe will be Sunderland’s saviour, predicts Sam Allardyce

Patrick van Aanholt and Jermain Defoe
Patrick van Aanholt and Jermain Defoe
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Jermain Defoe’s hat-trick at Swansea has reiterated how pivotal he is to Sunderland’s survival battle, believes Sam Allardyce.

Defoe became the first Sunderland player in two years to net a Premier League treble after the England international helped the Black Cats to a crucial 4-2 victory at Swansea last night.

The 33-year-old has scored five goals in Sunderland’s last two Premier League games, as Allardyce’s men have recorded victories over fellow strugglers Aston Villa and Swansea.

And if Sunderland – who are now just a point adrift of the safety mark – are to beat the drop, then boss Allardyce knows that they will need Defoe to fire them to safety.

Allardyce said: “I think his goals are going to be key, yes. Anybody who is going to succeed in getting out of trouble need that.

“When you look at the two men at Watford and the two frontmen at Leicester, they score all the goals.

“We’ve got Jermain scoring all our goals. We’ve only got one, but one will be enough if he carries on scoring like he is.

“Goalscorers change the game for you and put it to bed when they get the opportunity.

“That’s irrespective of whether you’re in the dominant position in the game or not. He can change the game by having one chance and scoring.”

Defoe had opened the scoring inside three minutes at the Liberty Stadium, yet Sunderland found themselves trailing 2-1 at half-time, despite Swansea being reduced to 10 men.

But Sunderland roared back in the second half as Allardyce altered his line-up to a more offensive approach, and that paid dividends, with the ex-West Ham boss singling out left-back Patrick van Aanholt’s contribution.

“I was imposing on the players at half-time that this was now a complete change of tactics, a completely different situation,” added Allardyce.

“Our front three with Jeremain (Lens) in behind had to stay right up there and our full-backs push right on.

“I wanted our wide men to get in the hole between their defence and their midfield.

“And Patrick made a massive contribution by providing goals down the left-hand side.

“It ended up a very good day for us and a very big three points.

“Irrespective of some of the referee’s decisions, we’ve gone and won away from home in an enormous game for both of us.

“We’ve gained three points on everybody above us, which is massive for us.”