Sunderland heavily boosted their survival chances by recording a 3-2 win over former champions Chelsea.
It wasn’t a straightforward afternoon for the Black Cats, as they twice came back from losing positions before grabbing the winner 20 minutes from time via Defoe’s cool finish from the edge of the box.
Writing in his regular Sunday column for the BBC, Crooks felt goal scorers Khazri and Defoe were critical in helping Sam Allardyce’s men claim all three points and feels the latter looks as sharp as ever.
“The highlight of the game was the finish by Wahbi Khazri. The ball may have struck his shin and not his laces but that was academic because his technique was spot on,” Crooks explained.
“Jermain Defoe has experienced personal trauma in his family and dismisses Sunderland's fight for survival as nothing more than a wonderful opportunity to show their fans how much they care.”
Well, he certainly did that and more against a rejuvenated Chelsea. The striker looked as sharp as ever and took his goal brilliantly. From the moment Defoe brought his first touch under control the game was over.”
Sunderland’s victory, coupled with Newcastle United’s stalemate at Aston Villa, sees the Wearside club now occupy 17th spot in the table, one point clear of their rivals with a game in hand.
The Black Cats host Everton in midweek, and victory for Allardyce’s men will guarantee their Premier League safety and condemn both Newcastle and Norwich City to relegation to the Championship.
Considering the form of both Defoe and Everton at present, it may come as a surprise if the relegation battle isn’t all sewn up by the time next weekend’s final day encounters commence.