Sam Allardyce paid tribute to Sunderland’s never-say-die attitude as they fought from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday.
Allardyce’s side were narrowly beaten by Manchester City in midweek and fell 2-0 down with 20 minutes remaining on Merseyside as Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana unlocked a stubborn defence.
Amid a protest at ticket prices among home supporters with 13 minutes left, Sunderland roared back through Adam Johnson and Jermain Defoe to claim an unlikely point in their Premier League survival quest.
“A bit of quality can always change a game. It’s the old adage, goals change games,” said Allardyce, who acknowledged surprise at his side’s comeback as they moved to within four points of safety.
“It didn’t look possible, but it is a strange old game. When we scored we had more belief about us and we scored two quality goals and showed if you don’t give up and you have Jermain Defoe up front you can get something out of the game.
“We deserved a lot [against City] on Tuesday, we may not have deserved what we got here, but we took our chances and we got a precious point.
“Coming from 2-0 down at Anfield in the position we’re in is great credit to the players for never saying die.”
Fans streamed out at Anfield after 77 minutes – the timing correlating to the most expensive ticket in Liverpool’s new pricing initiative – amid a restless atmosphere throughout on Merseyside.
Boos could be heard after full-time from those who remained in the ground and Allardyce acknowledged the protest may have impacted adversely the home side.
“The crowd has an effect on every player, when it’s bad and when it’s good,” added Allardyce, who saw Duncan Watmore join Younes Kaboul, Jeremain Lens and Fabio Borini on the treatment table when he limped off in the first half.
“The fear that can go through a player when he gets edgy and the crowd pass that fear to the players is from the Premier League right across the board.
“Maybe it’s why we’ve seen more away wins than ever before in the Premier League. Maybe that’s the case, but it’s something the players have to deal with.
“Liverpool got a bit nervous when we scored and we took advantage. But I don’t think anyone could have stopped Defoe’s goal. All we have to do is provide him with more chances to do it and he could be our saviour.
“They’ve made me happy this weekend the lads by fighting until the end and hopefully those injuries will clear up quickly.”