Sebastian Larsson stays grounded as luck changes for Sunderland

Sunderland 2 Stoke City 0: Sebastian Larsson refuses to take anything for granted after helping to drag Sunderland out of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone.

The 30-year-old Sweden international played his part in Saturday’s win, which came just five days after a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace and helped ease the club up to 17th place in the Premier League.

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce was quick to insist after the final whistle that the job is far from done, and that view is shared inside the dressing room.

Larsson, a veteran of the Black Cats’ increasingly miraculous escapes in each of the last three seasons, said: “That’s what it’s like down there. Unfortunately, we know it all too well.

“But two wins is massive and of course it pushes you up and it sort of sends the message that you are the team on the way up, and we need to capitalise on that and keep going, because we know how quickly it can change.

“We are not going to get ahead of ourselves by any means, but we knew these two wins were massive.”

Allardyce has built his reputation on making his teams difficult to beat, and it has instilled a confidence in the players which was so notably absent before his arrival.

“When you feel a bit more secure, you don’t feel like you are giving chances away constantly and worrying about conceding a goal, that really helps and that’s probably the one thing we have worked the most on,” said Larsson.

“We are trying to get back to being a bit more solid and then trying to win the game.”

The Black Cats had to remain patient on Saturday, even after Stoke skipper Ryan Shawcross’ 47th-minute dismissal for a second bookable offence.

They finally made the breakthrough eight minutes from time when full-back Patrick van Aanholt smashed home a rasping drive from Adam Johnson’s intelligent free-kick, before substitute Duncan Watmore celebrated his new long-term contract with an equally sumptuous strike three minutes later.

Potters boss Mark Hughes was furious with referee Mike Dean sending off Shawcross and awarding the free-kick which Van Aanholt scored. “We were very much in the game, but key moments, key details have gone against us.”

SUNDERLAND:

Pantilimon, Coates, O’Shea (Johnson 74), Kaboul, Yedlin, Larsson (Lens 54), M’Vila, Cattermole, Van Aanholt, Fletcher, Defoe (Watmore 31).

STOKE CITY:

Butland, Johnson, Shawcross, Wollscheid, Pieters, Whelan, Adam (Afellay 86), Shaqiri (Diouf 64), Krkic (Cameron 50), Arnautovic, Walters.

Referee:

Mike Dean (Wirral).

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