Sunderland forward Jermain Defoe revealed that referee Mike Dean accepted he should have awarded a penalty against Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker for handball.
Sam Allardyce’s men battled to a 0-0 draw at the Stadium of Light on Sunday, a result that edged them above Norwich City and out of the Premier League relegation zone on goal difference.
But it could have been even better for Sunderland, with Defoe’s first-half shot striking the arm of Mertesacker from close range in the penalty area.
Dean was unmoved at the time, but the veteran striker claimed the official has since acknowledged he made the wrong call.
Asked if he should have had a penalty, Defoe told Sky Sports: “Yeah, 100 per cent and I said that to the referee. I think he had a look at half time and he said ‘yeah’ – he agreed. If he [Mertesacker] doesn’t stop it with his hands I think it goes in because it is so close to the goal and maybe it would have been difficult for Petr Cech to react because I hit it quite clean.
“But we will take the point. You have to recognise who you are playing against and they are a top team. The manager has always said if you can’t win, the draws are important – you get a point and it adds up at the end of the season.
“Arsenal had good movement and they keep the ball well. So it was important we were disciplined, compact and tried to hit them on the counter-attack to try and get a goal. We got the point and are happy with that.”
Jan Kirchhoff was thrilled to see Sunderland ensure their survival fate is now in their own hands over the final four matches ahead of their trip to Stoke City next Saturday.
The former Bayern Munich midfielder said: “It is really important to get this point, be out of the bottom three and have a good feeling for next week.
“I think we had the opportunity to get three points but in the end we have to be lucky with this point because Arsenal played really good first half. We stayed in the game, managed to get a clean sheet again and are happy to get this point against a really good team
“We can go on with this, it was a good performance again and we go now to Stoke to win this game, get out of trouble and keep this good feeling for the rest of the season.
“It is in our hands now – we are still one game behind than Newcastle and one point in front. We are out of the bottom three, so let’s keep going and manage to stay in the league.”
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