Costel Pantilimon could be worth up to a dozen points a season for Sunderland, believes Sam Allardyce.
Ex-Manchester City goalkeeper Pantilimon has enjoyed a mixed campaign, with the Romanian international making costly errors against both West Ham and West Brom, albeit there was much controversy for the goal in the latter encounter.
But Pantilimon made two superb saves in the second half of last weekend’s Wear-Tyne derby, most notably the stop to deny Aleksandar Mitrovic when Sunderland were only 1-0 up.
Allardyce has branded that moment a “match-winning save” given the mental blow it would been if Sunderland had conceded against the 10-man Magpies.
And if Pantilimon can continue in that vein for the rest of the season, then Allardyce is in no doubt how valuable the Romanian stopper could prove to be.
“Costel’s save just after half-time was the biggest chance Newcastle created on the day, and it was a match-winning save,” said Allardyce.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.
“There would have been a massive lull in the team and in the crowd if that goal had gone in.
“Everyone would have said ‘I can’t believe we’ve conceded a goal against 10 men’.
“All the negatives and doubts would have come flooding back in the players’ minds.
“That save was critical at the time and it’s what you want your goalkeeper to do.
“When they get called upon, they have to be good enough to make the save.
“It was one of the main reasons why we got the three points, in my opinion.
“A good goalkeeper can win you eight, 10, 12 points a season when he makes those critical saves at the right time.”