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Sbragia focused on last-day test


Sbragia rues missed chances

Sunderland manager Ricky Sbragia tried to put on a brave face after the 3-1 defeat at Portsmouth dragged his side back into the relegation battle.

The Black Cats are still masters of their own fate going into Sunday's last Premier League game against Chelsea.

His side are two points above the drop zone and he said: "We wanted to get a cushion going into the last game but we know what we have got to do.

"It is going to be difficult but we have got to get a win on Sunday."

Sunderland could have secured their Premier League status with a victory against Pompey.

They took the lead with a Kenwyne Jones goal but were quickly pegged back and surrendered to defeat to leave them in an uncertain position.

"We got a good goal to go one up and we should have been a little stronger," stated Sbragia. "The last thing we wanted to do was concede an early equaliser - we were disappointed with that.

"I thought in general we did OK and we created some good chances but you have to make the chances count and we didn't do that. It's the same old story."


Sunderland are now looking nervously over their shoulder at Hull, who are only a point behind, and at Newcastle, who are in the relegation zone and only two points behind.

All three sides face tough opposition on Sunday and Sbragia expects no quarter to be given.

"They are all hard games, no-one is going to lie down and put a weakened team out," he added.

"Hull have a got a very hard game against Manchester United and Newcastle have a very difficult game against Aston Villa.

"We don't know what Chelsea will bring into our game on Sunday - they might have one eye on their FA Cup final.

"But we know what we have got to do, it has always been in our hands and we know what is required on Sunday."

By contrast, Portsmouth caretaker manager Paul Hart has no such worries, with last Saturday's results ensuring his side's safety and the win against Sunderland coming with the pressure off.

Hart delighted to seal survival

Hart, who took charge at Fratton Park following the sacking of Tony Adams in February, said: "Saturday was an afternoon of relief. We have another year in the Premier League - and that is what I set out to achieve.

"I am delighted that the club is there and I think we deserve it. It is a smashing club and I really love it here.

"I am really pleased that we went about our job in a professional manner today, that we didn't take our foot off the pedal. We did justice to the Premier League.

"Obviously, it's been a very hard season and there are a lot of tired legs but they pushed themselves over the line."

Asked whether he would like the Pompey job on a permanent basis, Hart insisted he has not had a chance to even consider it.

"I was employed until the end of the season - specifically to keep us in the Premier League - and that is all I have been thinking about," he insisted.

"I was employed to do this job. It was specific - one day, one game, then it became until the end of the season and we have really just focused on that.

"I'm contracted to this club for two years anyway, so it's immaterial. It's a good job to have, it's a great club and I'm sure there'll be a lot of people fancying it."

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Barclays Premier League Table
01 February 2010 22:00
    P GD PTS
1 Chelsea 23 38 54
2 Man Utd 24 36 53
3 Arsenal 24 32 49
4 Tottenham 24 20 42

5 Liverpool 24 16 41

6 Man City 22 14 41
7 Aston Villa 23 13 40
8 Birmingham 23 -1 34
9 Everton 23 -1 32
10 Blackburn 24 -15 28
11 Fulham 23 -2 27
12 Stoke 22 -7 26
13 Sunderland 23 -10 24
14 Wigan 22 -23 22
15 West Ham 23 -9 21
16 Bolton 22 -15 21
17 Wolverhampton 23 -21 21

18 Burnley 23 -23 20
19 Hull 23 -26 20
20 Portsmouth 22 -16 15

see also
Portsmouth 3-1 Sunderland
18 May 09 |  Premier League
England lose James for qualifiers
18 May 09 |  Portsmouth
Portsmouth v Sunderland as it happened
18 May 09 |  Football
Lawro's predictions
16 May 09 |  Football

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