Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce hailed the debut performance of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford despite seeing his side lose 3-1 to Arsenal.
Jeremain Lens put the visitors ahead at Emirates Stadium but goals from Joel Campbell, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud sent Arsene Wenger’s men through to the FA Cup fourth round.
Pickford, recalled from a loan spell with Preston North End, delivered an assured performance in the Sunderland goal and made some fine saves to deny Campbell and Kieran Gibbs in particular, and Allardyce believes the England youth international is beginning to gain the reputation he deserves.
“Jeremain Lens did well, Jordan in goal too – he looks the part,” he said.”A Sunderland lad, he has a very bright future.
“The fans always take to a local boy, Jordan has been here since he was eight and that is such a rarity now.
“There is a huge amount of talk in the football world about him, there is no way I could have left him at Preston without bringing him back and seeing if he can do it for us.”
Sunderland missed a great chance to take a 2-1 lead in the second half as Steven Fletcher hit the crossbar with a header, and Allardyce was happy with his side’s display until they allowed their concentration levels to slip in the closing 20 minutes.
“At 70 minutes we didn’t know which way the game was going to go, it was very tight and there were chances at both ends,” he said.
“We couldn’t continue our progress, we did well for 70 minutes, but as we know a game is 90 minutes.
“However, we move on as there are lots of positives to take from the game. The squad have shown that they can play at this level, maybe not quite as good as they should have today, but the players have shown that they can step in and do the job.
“In the end we gave Arsenal too much space and opened ourselves up, they took advantage of that and ultimately that won them the game.”