Jermain Defoe scored a sensational long-range volley as Sunderland moved three points clear of the Premier League relegation zone by beating archrivals Newcastle United 1-0 in the Tyne-Wear derby on Sunday.
Striker Defoe struck in first-half stoppage-time, crashing a sublime left-foot volley into the top-right corner from long range after Steven Fletcher headed on Costel Pantilimon’s punt downfield.
The goal sparked jubilant celebrations at the Stadium of Light and Defoe, who returned to English soccer in January after a disappointing spell at Toronto, was seen to wipe away tears as he left the pitch at halftime.
“Words can’t even describe how I felt when that went in,” Defoe told Sky Sports. “I was very emotional for some reason, as everyone wanted the three points so badly.”
The England international’s goal gave manager Dick Advocaat his first victory since succeeding Gus Poyet and enabled Sunderland to extend their run of successive wins over Newcastle to five.
“It was such a nice goal it has to count for two,” Advocaat joked. “We have three home games to go and we must get those points there as well. Now we concentrate on Crystal Palace. I am really happy for the players and the fans.”
Defoe’s strike also continued a theme of spectacular goals in the English top flight over the weekend, following Charlie Adam’s remarkable 65-yard strike against Chelsea for Stoke City and Bobby Zamora’s exquisite lob against West Bromwich Albion for Queens Park Rangers.
Newcastle manager John Carver, whose side remain in 13th place, described the visitors’ first-half performance as “abysmal.”
“I always say a side of mine will give 100 percent and we didn’t,” Carver said. “We were second-best in every department. It wasn’t good enough.”
Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur head coach Mauricio Pochettino admitted that his team faced an uphill battle to secure UEFA Champions League qualification following a 0-0 draw at Burnley.
The stalemate left Spurs seven points below the top four in sixth place, having played a game more than fourth-placed Manchester City, who were due to visit Crystal Palace yesterday.
Spurs also have a vastly inferior goal-difference to the teams in the top four and with only seven matches remaining, Pochettino conceded that the odds were against his side.
“It is difficult, but we have seven games — we will try,” said the Argentine, who handed top scorer Harry Kane the captaincy in the absence of injured goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. “It is true that it is not easy. This game was a very tough game and we need to try to win the most points possible in the next seven games. We played better in the second half and we made some chances, but it was not enough to score. Three weeks ago Manchester City lost here. It is not an excuse, but it is a very, very difficult team.”
Burnley squandered the best chance of the game, with Danny Ings shooting straight at Spurs goalkeeper Michel Vorm in the early stages after Ryan Mason had inadvertently played the ball into his path, but Clarets manager Sean Dyche was pleased with his side’s display, which lifted them above Queens Park Rangers in the relegation zone.
“I think we edged the game, but there was not a lot in it,” Dyche said. “We kept the tempo high and kept pressing high. Danny has had a great chance and it was unlike him not to put it away. He almost hit it too cleanly. Having said that, we are pleased to get another clean sheet against a top side.”
Burnley finished the weekend third-from-bottom, two points below Hull City and Aston Villa, with Sunderland a point further up.
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