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Poyet claims Chelsea victory shows Sunderland are showing the right style
GUS POYET last night claimed his Sunderland side's thrilling Capital One Cup quarter-final win over Chelsea provided a blueprint for what is needed to secure Premier League survival this season.
The Black Cats reached the League Cup semi-final for the first time since the 1998-99 season despite falling behind when Lee Cattermole converted Cesar Azpilicueta's cross under pressure from Frank Lampard at the start of the second half.
However, substitute Fabio Borini drilled home from an acute angle with two minutes left to force extra-time, and fellow replacement Ki Sung-Yueng found the corner of the net to secure a thrilling triumph with two minutes of the extra period remaining.
It was a remarkable comeback win for the Black Cats, and Poyet was especially pleased to see his players sticking to their footballing principles despite the difficulty of the situation they found themselves in.
“It shows we are getting there slowly,” said the Sunderland boss. “It's not easy, but you need to keep believing and doing the right things.
“We kept passing the ball, and that's why we scored. We didn't panic and start looking long – we looked for the killer pass and carried on trying to create something.
“That's the way we are going to do it, and the key thing is that the players do it all the time now. Even in extra-time, they were playing that way and they got their reward for that. Now, we must do it every game, every week.”
The last time Sunderland beat Chelsea in the League Cup, they went on to make the final, and while a reprise of 1985 would be welcome in terms of getting to Wembley, long-time fans of the Wearsiders will not need reminding that the season also ended with the club being relegated.
The current Premier League survival campaign resumes when Norwich visit the Stadium of Light on Saturday, and by then, Sunderland's supporters will know who their side will face in January's two-legged semi-final.
Manchester City also booked their spot in the last four last night, with tonight's quarter-finals pitting Stoke City against Manchester United and Tottenham against West Ham.
“I'm pleased for the players, and absolutely delighted for the fans,” said Poyet. “This has been a hard season for the fans, but when you find yourself in a semi-final, that's something to enjoy.
“It was a victory in a special manner because we scored right at the end of the game, and then did it again right at the end of extra-time. It's for them – the players and the fans.”
Despite being outplayed for the majority of the first hour, Sunderland finished normal time with a flourish and were the dominant side for most of extra-time.
Jozy Altidore saw his shot blocked at the start of the second period of extra-time, and Ki would have settled things four minutes before he did had former Middlesbrough goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer not tipped his goal-bound header over the crossbar.
The challenge now is to carry last night's momentum into Saturday's game with a Norwich side who have recorded just one away victory since September, and while the extra minutes will have sapped the energy of the Sunderland squad, Cattermole is confident the boost to morale will more than compensate for any tiredness.
“There have been some positive performances throughout the team,” said the midfielder. “It's a great win. It's not in the league, but it gives us momentum into Saturday and keeps our season alive.
“The priority was always Saturday. We played very well in extra-time and that gives us belief, which is massive for the squad.”
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho felt his side did not deserve to lose, but admitted he might have to adopt a different approach in order to prevent the concession of costly goals.
“We are going in one direction, and that's the right direction, but it's quite frustrating,” he said. “Football is about getting results, and we may have to take a step back in order to be more consistent at the back. It's something I don't want, to play more counter-attacking, but I'm giving it serious thought.”
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