After fellow striker Danny Graham kicked off his Sunderland goalscoring career in his 28th game and after 28 months with the club, Defoe did what he has done to the tune of almost one goal for every two starts throughout his career.
Like Graham’s goal, Defoe’s had a large slice of luck as his knee and arm diverted Adam Johnson’s 85th minute shot past Tim Howard but Sunderland did not care in the slightest how and from where the goals came.
Manager Dick Advocaat has played Defoe in an unfamiliar wide role, as part of a three-man forward line, but, with this goal and the winner in last month’s Tyne-Wear derby, the 32-year-old has already showed his signing from MLS side Toronto in January was a hugely important piece of business.
“People know now I’m 32, I think people know now what I bring to a club and bring to a team,” said Defoe.
“It was just a case of coming and trying to do what I’ve done throughout my career and that is work hard and get myself in the areas to score goals.
“Lucky enough over my career, wherever I’ve been I’ve always been able to score goals. It’s been difficult this season, every game is difficult, scrapping for results. But it is important to work hard, wait for that luck and retain your belief in your ability.
“I think this goal could be worth a lot of money to the club — I hope so, but I don’t want to get too carried away. Next week is a massive one, get three points against Leicester and everyone can feel we have achieved something.”
The fortunate manner of Graham’s 53rd minute deflected effort, steering a Jordi Gomez drive past Howard while he appeared to be trying to avoid the ball, suggested this was to be Sunderland’s day and as one goalscorer to another, Defoe appreciates the value of that goal for player and club alike.
“It’s massive,” said Defoe. “He has been unbelievable. Even in training he is banging in goals every day. And what he brings to the team is that work-rate.”
Meanwhile, a bizarre season for Everton is ending with manager Roberto Martinez still fielding questions about his team’s ambitions to qualify for Europe next season, albeit via the Fair Play League.
“If we get awarded a place, we will embrace it and enjoy it as a football club,” said Martinez.
“The international players are away until June 17, so they would not be available for the early rounds. But we have got a lot of young, talented players who have already played in Europe. They are ready for that experience.”
Howard 5; Coleman 5, Jagielka 5, Stones 7, Baines 7 (Garbutt 73); McCarthy 7, Barry 5 (Mirallas 62, 7); Lennon 5 (McGeady 86), Barkley 7, Osman 7; Lukaku 6.
Pantilimon 7; Jones 7, Coates 9, Brown 7, Van Aanholt 7; Cattermole 8; Larsson 6 (Bridcutt 83), Gomez 6; Defoe 8, Graham 8 (Johnson 73), Wickham 7 (Fletcher 83).
Lee Probert (Wiltshire) 7.