Sam Allardyce hailed Jermain Defoe’s finishing qualities after the former England striker scored twice to hand Sunderland a 3-1 win against fellow strugglers Aston Villa on Saturday.
Defoe rescued the hosts thanks to a late brace with the game in the balance with 20 minutes to go as Sunderland moved within four points of safety in the lower reaches of the Premier League table.
Allardyce told Sky Sports News: “Thank God for Jermain Defoe and his finishing qualities. He turned the game back in our favour.
“He relieved the pressure and then got the third. He could have had a hat-trick if it wasn’t for the offside flag.”
The scoreline was perhaps harsh on Villa, who looked the better side for long periods at the Stadium of Light, but Allardyce was more interested in the result rather than the manner of the victory.
He added: “It’s a great relief obviously, it’s been such a long time since we’ve felt the joy of winning.
“Everyone here was so relieved when the third one went in. Until that point we were never that comfortable.
“It wasn’t about the performance, it was all about the result. We needed a victory and I thought the second-half performance was better than the first.
“We’re still very much in trouble, still a long way to go but getting a win was critical in this fixture.”
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