ANDREA DOSSENA insists there is plenty of time for Sunderland to bridge the gap with survival, despite coming away empty-handed from a seven-goal thriller against Chelsea.
Gus Poyet’s 100 per cent home record as Black Cats boss came to an end last night after Sunderland succumbed to the Uruguayan’s former club, at the Stadium of Light.
Basement boys Sunderland remain five points adrift of fourth-bottom West Ham, although Stoke and Cardiff moved six ahead of the Wearsiders last night after playing out a goalless draw.
But, with more than half of the season still to go, left-back Dossena says there is plenty of confidence in the Sunderland dressing room that the Black Cats can avoid the drop.
Dossena told the Echo: “We’re frustrated because we scored three goals and came away with zero points.
“But this team has great character.
“OK, we lost yesterday, but there is a long way until May and the other teams are not a long way in front of us.
“We’ve got another chance on Saturday to close the gap on the teams in front of us.
“We kept going last night because the mentality here is perfect.
“The fans are behind us and we want to win for them.
“At the end of the day, we didn’t get them any points, but the mentality here is strong.”
Eden Hazard proved to be the main difference between the two sides last night after the Belgian netted a brace and set up Frank Lampard’s equaliser, just three minutes after Jozy Altidore opened the scoring for the hosts.
Dossena says Sunderland won’t regularly face players of that calibre, even on Saturday when sixth-placed Spurs visit the Stadium of Light.
“Hazard had a fantastic game and you don’t come up against players like him or (Juan) Mata every week,” he said.
“We know Chelsea are a great team. I know Tottenham are good, but I don’t think they’re as good as Chelsea.
“We have to show the same heart and same character because it’s a very important game.”
Dossena completed only his second full 90 minutes for Sunderland last night after returning to the side at Aston Villa last weekend, following the three-game ban for his red card at Hull City.
The Italian added: “I was very frustrated when I was out and I couldn’t help my team-mates. I know I did wrong because my tackle was bad.
“But now I feel very good and feel a great motivation from my team-mates which is important.
“At Aston Villa, I finished with cramp and I had to come off. Last night though, I finished the game and on Saturday, I think I’ll be fully fit.”