Sunderland Ties Stoke to Boost Premier League Survival Chances

Ten-man Sunderland boosted its chances of staying in English soccer’s Premier League after coming from behind to tie Stoke City 1-1.

John O’Shea scored for Sunderland in the 63rd minute at its Stadium of Light last night after Jon Walters put Stoke ahead in the ninth minute. For the second straight game, Sunderland was reduced to 10 men when Craig Gardner was red-carded for a dangerous tackle on Charlie Adam in the first half.

“Although we didn’t get the three points, the fight and spirit that I saw in my players and how they remained organized and didn’t lose their brains makes me very happy,” Sunderland manager Paolo di Canio told his team’s website. “When I see my team play like that it makes me confident.”

The result puts Sunderland in 15th place as one of three teams on 38 points with two matches left. The Blacks Cats lead Norwich and Newcastle on goal difference and are three points ahead of 18th-place Wigan, which occupies the final relegation spot going into tonight’s home game against Swansea.

Wigan, which faces Chelsea in the F.A. Cup final in four days, would also move to 38 points with two Premier League matches left to play by beating Swansea.

Sunderland next faces Southampton, which is still in danger of demotion to the second-tier Championship with 39 points, in its final home game on May 12. Di Canio’s team then visits Champions League qualification-chasing Tottenham on the final day of the season a week later.

Stoke stayed in 11th place with 41 points, six clear of the three-team drop zone.

“We are pleased that we’ve got that point,” Stoke manager Tony Pulis said in a televised interview. “There are a lot of teams down there this time around.”

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