Thursday 22 February 2018

Vito Mannone wants Sunderland to build on their battling draw with Tottenham

Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone, who kept a clean sheet against Tottenham
Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone, who kept a clean sheet against Tottenham

Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone has told his team-mates they need to use their battling draw against title-chasing Tottenham as a springboard for another Premier League survival mission.

The Black Cats lifted themselves from the foot of the table on Tuesday evening courtesy of a 0-0 draw with Mauricio Pochettino's men with a performance full of character and determination, traits which have been sadly lacking at times so far this season.

While happy with the result and delighted with the way in which it was secured, manager David Moyes later admitted only wins will enable his side to pull off a fifth successive escape, and Mannone knows it has to represent a start.

The Italian said: "At the end of the day it's a good point, it's a base for us now to try to defend this way, keep clean sheets, then get a few chances.

"I thought in the first half we could nick it, JD [Jermain Defoe] and Fabio [Borini] had two or three chances. Now we have to repeat this performance every game."

Sunderland have scored just 20 goals in their 23 league games to date - Defoe supplying 12 of them - and with sidekick Victor Anichebe facing months on the sidelines with a knee injury, the Black Cats' ultimately unsuccessful transfer window pursuit of Leicester's Leonardo Ulloa was understandable.

Had the two golden opportunities they created before the break fallen to Defoe, they might have emerged with a priceless victory, but they fell instead to Borini, who was unable to make the most of either.

Shaken from their first-half lethargy, Spurs made a much better fist of it after the break with Heung-min Son, Victor Wanyama and Eric Dier all going close, but not close enough.

Mannone's clean sheet was his first of the season in the league on a night when he received better protection than he has at times in the recent past.

He said: "It was a deserved point. We finally defended as a team, as a unit."

While Sunderland found themselves five points adrift of safety on the final whistle, Spurs were left to count the cost of a draw which saw them climb into second place but prevented them from closing the gap on leaders Chelsea, who emerged from their trip to Liverpool with just a point.

Pochettino was hugely disappointed, particularly with a first-half performance which saw his usually free-scoring side muster only one shot on target in the wake of their FA Cup scare against Wycombe.

There was a significant improvement after the break, but the Argentinian admitted they will have to be better again if they are return to winning ways against Middlesbrough on Saturday.

He told the club's official website: "In the second half, we played better and created chances, but it wasn't enough to win the game.

"We feel bad and disappointed because it was a great chance to reduce the gap with Chelsea at the top.

"We showed a lack of aggression in the first half and that was the problem. We can't afford to play in that way when we're playing for big things.

"We need to learn about that and try to fix it, and Saturday is another opportunity for us to win three points.

Press Association

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