Jermain Defoe toast of Sunderland after match-winner lifts them out of Premier League relegation zone
Black Cats come from behind to beat Chelsea 3-2 but Newcastle United and Norwich are on the verge of the drop
Jermain Defoe was again the toast of Sunderland on Saturday after his winner in a 3-2 victory over Chelsea lifted them out of the relegation zone, leaving Newcastle United and Norwich City on the verge of the drop.
Defoe scored his 15th league goal of the season to lead a stunning comeback victory against Chelsea who had captain John Terry sent off in added time for a second bookable offence.
With Norwich losing 1-0 at home to Manchester United and Newcastle only able to come away with a goalless draw at doomed Aston Villa, the victory means Sunderland, with two games remaining, will be safe if they beat Everton on Wednesday.
Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle, who are a point behind northeast neighbours Sunderland in 18th place despite having played a game more, would then be relegated along with Norwich who are 19th and have two matches left but remain three points behind the Magpies.
United’s win at Norwich, courtesy of Juan Mata’s fifth goal against the Canaries, leaves them in fifth place, one point behind neighbours Manchester City who occupy the fourth Champions League qualification spot and face fellow contenders Arsenal on Sunday.
The Black Cats were 2-1 down at home to Chelsea, last season’s champions, before two goals in three second-half minutes from Fabio Borini and Jermain Defoe dramatically turned the match their way.
Sunderland had fallen behind in the 14th minute through striker Diego Costa. But they were level four minutes before the break when Tunisia’s Wahbi Khazri struck a brilliant 20-yard volley.
However, there was still time for Chelsea to regain the lead before half-time through Nemanja Matic.
Borini then turned in Patrick van Aanholt’s cutback in the 67th minute and Defoe made it 3-2 when he seized on a cross into the box.
“It was a difficult game but we managed to do it,” said Sunderland match-winner Jermain Defoe.
“Unbelievable character from the boys, everyone worked hard. We have always been confident, never thought about being relegated.
“It’s not done yet. We must recover and we’ve got a big game on Wednesday.”
Norwich manager Alex Neil was devastated by the loss to United. “It has been the story of our season,” he said. “There were not many chances in the game and we kept Manchester United at bay,” added Neil. “When you gift goals and make errors, it was not going to be enough.
“We have to keep fighting. We have to stop making errors but it is a bit late in the day.”
Dwight Gayle’s two goals gave Crystal Palace a come-from-behind 2-1 win at home to Stoke City that secured the FA Cup finalists Premier League status.
West Ham United’s push to play Champions League football in their first season in the Olympic Stadium looked bleak following their surprising 4-1 hammering by Swansea City in their final Saturday afternoon game at the Boleyn Ground.
Bournemouth, already assured of Premier League survival after promotion last season, drew 1-1 with a West Bromwich Albion side managed by former player and boss Tony Pulis.
Reuters, Agence France-Presse