RESILIENT Sunderland finally got the Premier League win they craved to put a much more positive slant on their season.
But it needed the 47th-minute sending off of Wigan midfielder Jordi Gomez for a studs up challenge on Danny Rose to turn a hard-fought game their way.
Up to that point, Sunderland had had their hands full against a Wigan side who came to the Stadium of Light looking for all three points.
Simon Mignolet had to make two saves of the highest quality to deny James McCarthy, in the fourth minute, and Arouna Kone, on the quarter-hour.
Sunderland, for their part, were unlucky not to go ahead when John O’Shea saw his near-post effort from a left-wing corner cleared off the line by Ivan Ramis.
But the game turned in the second half, with Sunderland taking the lead just a couple of minutes after the sending-off – left-winger James McClean turning the visitors’ defence inside out before lifting a cross to the far post which Steven Fletcher drove home left-footed.
It was the first time in history that the first five goals of a Sunderland season had been scored by one player and after the Scotsman’s finish the floodgates threatened to open, with McClean, Sessegnon and Gardner going close.
But the game was far from over, 10-man Wigan making a fist of it and looking to hit on the break all the way to the final whistle.
Sunderland though were not to be denied and their season has a much rosier complexion this evening.
* Full report and pictures in tonight’s Football Echo