History

O'Shea: Man City draw inspired Sunderland's 'miracle'

29 Jul 2015
Connor Wickham celebrates scoring in the 2-2 draw at Manchester City

Defender says spirited display at Etihad Stadium was catalyst for great escape in 2013/14

Premier League history is littered with famous escapes from relegation trouble by clubs who appeared set for the drop, even to their most optimistic supporters.

From West Bromwich Albion's transformation from Christmas basement boys to final-day safety in 2004/05 to Leicester City's emphatic end-of-season run to avoid the drop 10 years later, improbable escapes are a key part of the league’s appeal.

In 2013/14, Sunderland's position was so perilous that head coach Gus Poyet declared his team needed "a miracle".

The Black Cats were seven points from safety with six matches remaining, a daunting fixture list that included trips to title challengers Manchester City and Chelsea, along with reigning champions Manchester United.

Poyet's men turned in an impressive performance at the Etihad Stadium, where Man City needed a last-gasp Samir Nasri equaliser to salvage a 2-2 draw after Connor Wickham's second-half double turned the match on its head.

Connor Wickham's double had Sunderland 2-1 up at Man City until late on
Connor Wickham's double had Sunderland 2-1 up at Man City until late on

Far from being disheartened by letting two points slip, Sunderland captain John O'Shea believes that that performance was the catalyst for their survival efforts.

"We drew the game 2-2 but we played so well," O'Shea told premierleague.com. "We went a goal down early in the game and a lot of people watching the game probably would have thought that we were going to collapse and concede a lot of goals but we showed great determination, spirit and belief to come back and go 2-1 up.

"We conceded late on but the compliments we received from that performance made us go down to Stamford Bridge and win, to Old Trafford and win."

Three days on from making Manuel Pellegrini's eventual champions sweat, Sunderland landed another blow against title challengers by beating Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge.

Fabio Borini celebrates his winner for Sunderland at Chelsea
Fabio Borini celebrates his winner for Sunderland at Chelsea

Wickham cancelled out Samuel Eto'o's opener and Fabio Borini's penalty eight minutes from time inflicted Jose Mourinho's first defeat in 78 Premier League home matches as Chelsea manager.

In between convincing home wins over Cardiff City and West Brom, Sebastian Larsson scored the only goal to down Manchester United at Old Trafford and secure another impressive scalp.

"To go to those places and play the football that we did, the confidence we showed, thankfully our thoughts [of relegation] didn't go to the forefront of our minds," O'Shea said. "It was special."

O'Shea gives much of the credit to Poyet, who left the Stadium of Light in 2014/15 after another poor start, for keeping the dressing room positive and inspiring the players to tremendous feats.

John O'Shea (right) during the 1-0 win at his former club Man Utd
John O'Shea (right) during the 1-0 win at his former club Man Utd

"A lot of the lads would have been privately thinking in their own thoughts that we were down, but the gaffer was incredible in how he approached the games that we had to play - away at Man City, Chelsea, Man United and even

Liverpool to an extent where we should have got something from the game," the former Manchester United defender, who won five titles at Old Trafford, said.

Sunderland finished five points clear of the drop zone in 14th position, with the 2-0 win against West Brom confirming their Premier League safety.

To read premierleague.com's review of the 2013/14 Premier League season, click here.

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