Di Canio wants one more win to dodge drop

SUNDERLAND 1 vs STOKE CITY 1

SUNDERLAND manager Paolo Di Canio has labelled Sunday’s match against fellow strugglers Southampton “our Champions League final”, after coming from behind to earn a valuable draw against Stoke with 10 men.

A nightmare first half saw the Black Cats fall behind inside 10 minutes when Jonathan Walters netted from close range, before midfielder Craig Gardner was shown a straight red card for an over-the-ball foul on Charlie Adam.

But John O’Shea’s second goal of the season leaves Sunderland three points clear of the drop zone and Di Canio has called on his team to win on Sunday and take a giant stride towards safety.

“This game against Southampton is our Champions League final,” he said. “It’s crucial for our destiny.

“It was a fantastic effort [against Stoke] and I think this will be crucial at the end of the season.”

Meanwhile, Stoke moved six points clear of the relegation zone and manager Tony Pulis is hopeful his team has done enough to stay up.

“This season seems to be surreal,” he said. “Normally you get to 40 points and take a view from there. We’re delighted to be on 41 points, but if we need more points to be safe we’ve got two games to get them.”