Sunderland boss Gus Poyet hails referee Phil Dowd for 'best decision I have ever seen'

Hey you guys! Gus Poyet. Photo: PA

Gus Poyet hailed the best refereeing decision he has ever seen after seeing Sunderland drag themselves out of the Premier League relegation zone.

The 46-year-old Uruguayan was full of praise for match official Phil Dowd, who sent off Cardiff defender Juan Cala and awarded a penalty after initially allowing play to continue.

Poyet believes the decision was a direct result of the debate sparked by West Ham midfielder Matt Jarvis' attempts to stay on his feet under the challenge of Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna earlier this month, which ultimately went unrewarded.

The Sunderland head coach said: "It's the best decision I have ever seen from a referee in my life, it's as simple as that.

"If we really want to stop players going down easily, this is the way, so all the credit to Phil today because he did what we all wanted, but it was for some reason not possible.

"Definitely Jarvis helped us a lot because after that incident with Jarvis, we have been talking about these actions for the last two weeks.

"Today, we got what everybody was probably expecting in terms of playing the game, going on because the referee is going to back you up because you have advantage, but it was a foul and it was a red card.

"Like I said, it was the best decision I have ever seen in my life from a referee.

"Before Jarvis, maybe - I will ask Phil - this penalty wouldn't have been given and the sending-off, which means that on that day you go into the dressing room and you need to ask a player, 'Why didn't you go down?', which is natural because if not, you don't get the penalty.

"Now Phil proved to us all that it's possible and that for football is magnificent."

Dowd's decision on the stroke of half-time proved the pivotal moment in the game, although by that point, the Black Cats were already ahead.

Connor Wickham set the ball rolling when he headed Sebastian Larsson's 26th-minute corner home for his fourth goal in three games, and it was he who prompted Cala's premature departure.

The 21-year-old pounced on defender Cala's error only to be hauled back by the Spaniard and after Dowd had played an advantage which did not accrue, he pointed to the spot and issued a red card.

Fabio Borini converted from the spot and the Black Cats never looked back as substitute Emanuele Giaccherini added a third 14 minutes from time before Wickham claimed his second of the game at the death from the Italy international's corner.

The win - just Sunderland's second in the league in 11 attempts at the Stadium of Light - lifted them out of the drop zone on goal difference and left the Bluebirds at the bottom of the pile and in deep trouble.

But Poyet said: "Let's not think we have done everything because we have done nothing. There are still games to play and everything can change.

"Now if we want to be in a great situation, we have put ourselves in the best position possible in football because it didn't look good.

"I talked about miracles, let's see if in two weeks' time I am here telling you that miracles happen."

Opposite number Ole Gunnar Solskjaer refused to be drawn in to the debate over Cala's dismissal, and set his men the task of winning both their remaining games - at Newcastle next week and at home to Chelsea on the final day - to stay up.

Asked about their chances, he said: "Of course they have taken a big blow, but we have got two games - we have got to win those two.

"We looked at this one as a possibility for three points, but then we have got to look at the next one and Chelsea. The next two games, you have got to win them."