Premier League: Ten-man Sunderland drew 1-1 with Stoke thanks to John O'Shea goal
By Tom McDermott @FootballMcD. Last Updated: May 7, 2013 12:21am
Ten-man Sunderland drew 1-1 with Stoke City at the Stadium of Light in the Premier League on Monday.
Jonathan Walters fired the visitors ahead after nine minutes from a corner and Sunderland's task was made all the more difficult when Craig Gardner was sent off on 34 minutes for a late challenge on Charlie Adam.
Best of the match
- Moment of the match: Craig Gardner saw red but instead of Sunderland collapsing they responded to claim a vital point.
- Goal of the match: Who would have thought that Sunderland would grab a point when Gardner saw red? John O'Shea's goal was a fitting reward for the effort the home side put in.
- Man of the match: O'Shea takes it for his performance at both ends of the pitch. Excellent defending and a well taken goal could have helped secure the point that keeps Paolo Di Canio's side in the Premier League.
In the end Stoke's numerical advantage did not matter as the home side rescued an unlikely point thanks to a goal by defender John O'Shea on 63 minutes.
The clash came a day after the 40th anniversary of Sunderland's famous FA Cup final win over Leeds United, and manager Paolo Di Canio managed to get a champions' type response in the second half from the current crop of Sunderland players.
After Walters' goal in the opening period Stoke managed to restrict Sunderland to long-range attempts and, when Gardner saw red, it looked like the home side could be on the end of another hammering after last week's 6-1 thrashing at Aston Villa.
But, somehow Sunderland responded and Adam Johnson's near miss ten minutes after the break set the ball rolling.
As Sunderland pressed on it did allow Stoke a rare attack and Cameron Jerome went close after combining well with Adam.
Sunderland started to get some joy from set-pieces though and O'Shea was unfortunate to see his attempt cleared off the line.
If that was a warning then the hammer blow was delivered minutes later. Sebastian Larsson delivered the corner from the left, Ryan Shawcross failed to react and O'Shea prodded home.
It was a fitting reward for the Irishman who defended excellently especially when his side were reduced to ten men.
Remarkably Sunderland could have snatched an unlikely winner but Danny Rose's shot clipped the outside rather than the inside of the post during the closing stages.
The result means Sunderland climb to 15th on 38 points, while Stoke, who also moved a point closer to safety, reach the 41-point mark in 11th in the Premier League table.
Di Canio was delighted with his team's second-half performance and felt that Sunderland fully deserved to take a point.
"I saw the team I wanted to see with shape and character," he told Sky Sports. "There was only one side in the second half, but we must stop the yellow and red cards.
"We had to keep the shape and use the wide areas better and move Stoke around. Also, with our desire and at home we tried to stay in the game and create chances and in the end the desire and effort helped and the point will be crucial to us."
Di Canio's Stoke counterpart Tony Pulis was equally satisfied to come away a draw, saying: "It was a hard-earned point and we knew it was going to be.
"When the sending off happened, we had a couple of players booked and coming in at half-time, they were a bit nervous as anything could have seen them leave the pitch.
"I've got to give Sunderland a lot of credit, they showed a lot of spirit and togetherness, so I'm pleased we got the point."
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Sunderland v Stoke
Paolo Di Canio challenged Sunderland to secure Premier League survival this weekend after a 1-1 draw with Stoke.
Tony Pulis felt Stoke City picked up a 'hard-earned point' at Sunderland and remains hopeful of a top-10 finish.
John O'Shea is hoping his equaliser against Stoke will prove to be 'very valuable' in Sunderland's fight for survival.