Sam Allardyce thanked the heavens after Sunderland beat fellow strugglers Aston Villa 3-1 thanks to two goals from Jermain Defoe.
In the clash between the Premier League’s bottom two sides, Patrick van Aanholt’s opener was cancelled out by Carles Gill’s wonderful volley for Aston Villa, before former England striker Defoe scored his eighth and ninth goals of the season in the final 20 minutes.
The brace brought an end to Sunderland’s run of five-consecutive defeats, giving Allardyce faith his side can avoid the drop.
“It’s a great relief. It’s such a long time since we felt the joy of winning,” he said.
“Until the third goal went in we weren’t comfortable. We probably won’t be very comfortable until the end of the season. We got what we wanted. It was all about the result, not the performance.
“Thank God for Jermain Defoe and his finishing qualities. He turned the game back in our favour. He could have had a hat-trick but for an offside. Hopefully it will give us confidence going forward. We’re still very much in trouble but this win was critical.
“Goalscorers turn games. Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez at Leicester are into double figures and the rest of the team barely score a goal. Watford’s front two score all their goals. We need to pair off a couple like that to get double figures and keep tight at the back.”
Despite the result, Sunderland remain in 19th, although they are now only four points behind 17th-place Swansea City.