SUNDERLAND hauled themselves dramatically closer to Premier League safety this afternoon despite suffering three fresh injuries.
Phil Bardsley and Asamoah Gyan were stretchered off, while Danny Welbeck limped off the pitch.
But those are issues for Steve Bruce to worry about this weekend; all Sunderland fans were thinking about at the final whistle was celebrating a first victory in 10 games and a win which takes them back into the top half of the table.
A goalless first-half which offered little in the way of chances gave no indication of the six-goal thriller which was to come.
Wigan took the lead in the 52nd minute with a fine individual goal from Mohamed Diame, who turned Michael Turner and drilled a rising 25-yarder past Simon Mignolet’s despairing drive to his right.
A vocal crowd who gave great backing were silenced, but they were roaring again just three minutes later when Steed Malbranque put an inswinging cross in from the right and Asamoah Gyan rose eight yards out to head back across keeper Ali Al Habsi and just inside the post.
The Black Cats went ahead in the 68th minute when Jordan Henderson took advantage of a pass from Sulley Muntari to smash a left-foot shot high into the Wigan net from close range.
Stephane Sessegnon was then fouled in the box five minutes later and got up to stroke a penalty home for Sunderland’s third and the Black Cats’ fourth, five minutes after that, arrived when Sessegnon squared from the left and Henderson stabbed home his second of the game.
Wigan got a late consolation goal from Franco Di Santo.
But there was no stopping Sunderland from deservedly gaining a decisive victory on a day which transformed the mood on Wearside.
* Full match report and more great pics in tonight’s Football Echo