SUNDERLAND stopped their slump and manager Steve Bruce admits his side’s 4-2 win over Wigan was a gutsy effort.
The Black Cats came from behind to claim a 4-2 home win over Wigan Athletic - their first victory since January.
But it came at a cost as Phil Bardsley was carried off with a head injury before Danny Welbeck and Asamoah Gyan succumbed to hamstring injuries - leaving Steve Bruce’s strike force bereft.
There were few scoring chances in a first half held up for six minutes by Bardsley’s injury, caused by a clash of heads with team-mate Nedum Onuoha.
But Mohammed Diame’s rocket gave Wigan a 52nd-minute lead before Sunderland powered back thanks to goals from Gyan, Jordan Henderson (2) and Stephane Sessegnon (penalty).
Wigan grabbed a second late on, but three points lifted Sunderland out of the bottom half of the table.
Boss Bruce said: “Today we had injury problems again but fortunately this time we were in a position to do something about it.
“We scored three of our four goals without a recognized striker on the pitch.
“All credit to the players. They produced a performance when they needed to and it restores a bit of the faith.
“The big turning point was getting back into the game straight away following a wonder strike from Diame.
“To be fair I don’t think they’d had a shot on goal before that and then rifle one in the top corner and you think ‘here we go again’.”
Bruce told safc.com: “There were some very good performances today. My captain (Lee Cattermole) epitomized that today – he was absolutely fantastic.
“I’ve been saying for weeks we’ve just had to get a few fit; Lee is one of those players and he was excellent.
“I have to say a big thank you to the supporters. They were magnificent and played their part from the first whistle to the last.”