Head coach buoyed by 10-man Sunderland’s endeavour.
Black Cats boss Paolo Di Canio watched his side fight back from a goal down to secure a crucial point in Monday night’s draw with Stoke City at the Stadium of Light.
Jon Walters snatched an early lead for the Potters following a melee inside the Sunderland goalmouth and the home side's uphill challenge became even greater after Craig Gardner was dismissed 10 minutes before the break for a challenge on Charlie Adam.
However, it was Gardner’s dismissal that Di Canio believes inspired his team to take a foothold in the game.
“We started playing more freely and after going down to 10 men - the players reacted really well,” Di Canio told safc.com.
“I’m very proud of the pride, passion and quality that were on display tonight.
“All of that together has made this a very big result for us. The win over Newcastle will go down in the club’s history, but for me, what the players did tonight is 2,000 times bigger than what we did that day.”
The head coach continued: “Although we didn’t get the three points, the fight and spirit that I saw in my players and how they remained organised and didn’t lose their brains makes me very happy and very proud.
“When I see my team play like that it makes me confident and that combined with the tremendous atmosphere in the stadium makes tonight a game to remember.
“We got a point; it was a fantastic effort and a fantastic performance. We now have to look forward to the next game – it is a Champions League Final for us.”