x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

European football round-up: Ten-man Sunderland edge closer to safety in Premier League

Draw against Stoke City relief for northern English club. Plus news from the Spanish and Portuguese leagues.

Adam Johnson and Sunderland will be relieved after the draw against Stoke City. Stu Forster / Getty Images
Adam Johnson and Sunderland will be relieved after the draw against Stoke City. Stu Forster / Getty Images

Ten-man Sunderland took a small step towards Premier League survival after coming from behind to draw 1-1 at home to Stoke City on Monday night.

Former Manchester United defender John O'Shea rescued a point for Paolo di Canio's side, already a man down after Craig Gardner was sent off, when he struck from close range in the 63rd minute following a corner.

Jon Walters gave Stoke a ninth minute lead, reacting first to fire home after his header from Charlie Adam's cross was blocked.

Then, for the second match in a row, Sunderland found themselves down to 10 men after Gardner was shown a straight red card by referee Lee Mason for an over the ball one-footed challenge on Adam.

The draw left Sunderland as one of three teams on 38 points (above Norwich and Newcastle on goal difference) and three points clear with two games to play of Wigan, who currently occupy the third and final relegation place.

However, FA Cup finalists Wigan will also move to 38 points with two league games left, and intensify a manic battle to avoid demotion to the second-tier Championship, if they win at home to manager Roberto Martinez's former club Swansea on Tuesday.

Sunderland next play Southampton, with the south coast side themselves not out of drop danger on 39 points, with di Canio glad he was able to inspire his team at half-time.

"What can you say at half-time? I tried to motivate my players and told them that we were playing at home," the Italian told Sky Sports. "If you don't concede a second goal you can stay in the game.

"The players were amazing to react in the way they did. This point in my opinion will be crucial at the end of the season. I will not cry or make an excuse. We have players missing and I will only focus on those players I can select.

"We have to handle our aggression. It is a Champions League final for us against Southampton at the weekend. I will not watch Wigan tomorrow [Tuesday] as last time I watched them they won."

Stoke manager Tony Pulis, frustrated by the outcome, praised Sunderland's resilience by saying: "It was a hard-earned point, we knew it would be hard.

"You have to give Sunderland a lot of credit, they played with a lot of spirit and we are pleased to get a point to get to 41 points. It's one of those funny seasons when everything is not sorted out yet.

"We're disappointed not to take the three points which would have made us safe but we are 11th in the Premier League with two games to go. We can still finish in the top half."

Bottom of the table Queens Park Rangers and Reading have already been relegated.

Primera Liga: Getafe 2 Real Sociedad 1

Getafe reignited their Europa League ambitions with a come-from-behind victory over Champions League-chasing Real Sociedad.

The home side came into the match on the back of three successive defeats in the Primera Liga and things looked ominous when they fell behind to an early Carlos Vela goal.

But Pedro Leon and Abdel Barrada turned things in Getafe's favour before the interval and the scores stayed that way as Luis Garcia's men closed the gap on the top six to six points.

Sociedad are in the fourth and final Champions League spot but stay just two points ahead of Valencia with four rounds remaining.

Portuguese Liga: Benfica 1 Estoril 1

Benfica had to settle for a draw at home to Estoril as the Portuguese Liga leaders missed the chance to move four points clear at the top.

Jefferson put the visitors ahead after 59 minutes but their lead lasted just nine minutes before Maxi Pereira levelled things up again.

However, Benfica's hopes of adding to their tally were hit by the dismissal of Carlos Martins 12 minutes from time.

The result leaves Benfica just two points above Porto with two matches remaining, while Estoril are now within a point of the top five and European placings.


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