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Di Canio's relieved as O'Shea bags draw


Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio. Photo PA

Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio. Photo PA

Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio. Photo PA

SUNDERLAND boss Paolo di Canio believes his side's hard-fought draw against Stoke could prove critical to the Premier League relegation battle.

At half-time the chances of the Black Cats getting anything from the fixture looked remote, with Jonathan Walters' ninth-minute goal separating the sides and Craig Gardner having been dismissed for a nasty challenge on Charlie Adam.

Playing with 10 men last week at Aston Villa, Sunderland were hammered 6-1 but Di Canio delivered on his promise that there would be no repeat performance.

They put in a fine display after the break, bristling with energy and fully deserving the equaliser that arrived from John O'Shea following a 63rd-minute corner.

The result takes the club three points above Wigan in the drop zone and in front of Newcastle and Norwich on goal difference.

"It was a massive point for us. This point will be crucial at the end of the season, for sure," said Di Canio. "With the way it came this point is vital. We deserved a point from this game, maybe we deserved even more."

But as well as that assessment, there was also a warning from Di Canio that his team cannot keep making life hard for themselves.

"In some way we are a masochistic team. We have to be careful and to handle our aggression. We have to make sure we don't repeat the same mistakes otherwise we are in real trouble."