Belfast Telegraph

Mignolet targets top eight

Simon Mignolet is urging his Sunderland team-mates to end their recent barren run and target a top-eight Barclays Premier League finish.

The Black Cats passed up an opportunity to reduce the gap to Liverpool, the current occupants of eighth place, to just a single point when they were held 0-0 at the Stadium of Light by bottom-of-the-table Wolves. Having taken 31 points from the previous 19 league games they had played under Martin O'Neill, the draw capped a run of just two wins in 10.

Mignolet said: "There are still things to play for and everybody wants to get up in the table. We would rather end up eighth in the table than being 12th or 13th, so there's still a lot to play for. That's the main thing and everybody is thinking the same way in the dressing room."

There was a distinctly end-of-season feel about the game from the off as Sunderland, safe in mid-table, and Wolves, fighting a seemingly futile battle for survival, scrapped out an uneventful 90 minutes in a subdued atmosphere.

The home side should have taken the lead with 16 minutes played when James McClean was played into space inside the box by Stephane Sessegnon, but shot wastefully into the side-netting.

McClean saw Wolves goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey make a fine reaction save to keep out his 73rd-minute header, but not before Sylvan Ebanks-Blake had squandered a glorious opportunity by firing wide from close range at the other end.

In a dramatic conclusion which had little in common with much of the rest of the game, Steven Fletcher forced a vital diving save from Mignolet and Sebastian Larsson scooped Sessegnon's driven cross over the bar from six yards.

Mignolet said: "If you want to win games, you have to score a goal and obviously in the last couple of weeks, it has been tough for us to try to get a goal.

"It's always dangerous if it stays 0-0, things can go either way. Luckily, Wolves didn't score because they could easily have nicked the game as well, which would have been even more disappointing.

"But on the other hand, we have still got things to play for and hopefully, everybody looks forward to next week."

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