Sam Allardyce believes Sunderland’s survival prospects may depend on Jermain Defoe’s ability to continue to scoring goals.
Defoe scored a hat-trick on Wednesday night to earn Sunderland a precious 4-2 victory at Swansea City in a crucial game between two relegation rivals.
It moved Defoe to nine Premier League goals for the season as Sunderland moved above Newcastle United on goal difference and within a point of Swansea, who occupy the final safety position.
Asked if Defoe’s goals were the key to leading Sunderland from trouble, Allardyce replied: “I think so.
“When you look at the two front men at Watford and the two front men at Leicester, those two score all the goals.
“We’ve got Jermain scoring all our goals, so at the moment we’ve only got one. But one will be enough if he continues to score like he does.
“Irrespective of whether you’re in a dominant position or not, he can change a game in your favour by giving him one chance and him scoring.”
Allardyce on refereeing display
Defoe’s heroics ensured back-to-back league wins for Sunderland, but the game was shrouded in controversy with rookie Premier League referee Graham Scott criticised by both managers after the game.
Scott was only appointed for his fourth Premier League game on Monday after original referee Andre Marriner fell ill, but the Oxfordshire official was to find himself in the firing line.
Defoe might easily have been adjudged offside for his first two goals and Swansea were fortunate to be awarded a penalty when Andre Ayew fell after appearing to kick the ground rather than being tripped.
And Swansea defender Kyle Naughton received a straight red card close to half-time with the score at 1-1, although the full-back clearly won the ball for his challenge on Sunderland midfielder Yann M’Vila.
“I thought it was a soft red card. I thought it was a yellow card,” Allardyce said about Naughton’s dismissal.
“I think he got the ball but the follow through caught him. For me it’s get up and get on with it, give him a foul.
“I thought the penalty against us was a very soft penalty and that changed the game because we were in total control at that point.”