LAST-GASP hero Seb Larsson hopes a winning start to the Martin O’Neill era will spark a surge away from the Premier League’s doldrums.
Spectacular late goals from David Vaughan and Larsson handed new boss O’Neill a victorious start at the helm yesterday after fellow strugglers Blackburn Rovers had threatened to plunge Sunderland into further trouble.
Sunderland started the day in the bottom three, but victory moves them two points clear of danger ahead of next weekend’s trip to third placed Tottenham Hotspur.
Larsson admits confidence has been in short supply given Sunderland have failed to convert pressure into goals this season, but hopes victory will inject some belief back into O’Neill’s players.
“You only get confidence by winning games and there’s nothing like a last-minute winner after coming back from going a goal down,” said the Swedish international.
“As a player, you want to get off to a good start and impress the new manager.
“But we needed to get some points on the board, more than anything else.
“We’re not where we want to be in the table, especially not before the game. It’s only one game but hopefully that can give us the confidence to push up the table.
“Some of the play, passing and possession is good, but when you don’t score goals, confidence is low. It’s difficult to get that confidence if you don’t feel you can do anything to put the ball in the back of the net.
“But that’s the first time in a long while that we’ve all been coming off the pitch smiling.”
Sunderland dominated possession in a one-sided second half, yet were heading for a familiar tale of paying the price for a lack of quality in the final third.
But Vaughan’s 84th minute pile-driver gave Sunderland renewed purpose before Larsson sealed only a third win of the season with a stoppage time free-kick.
A fifth goal of the season was particularly sweet for the 26-year-old after his missed penalty proved the turning point at Wolves seven days earlier.
Larsson said: “You know Blackburn are a tough team to break down – they must have headed 50 balls out of their box and credit to them for that.
“But at the same time, we had some clear-cut chances in the first half.
“In the second half, I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in a game where we’ve had so much possession.
“But if you don’t score goals, you don’t win games.
“It is frustrating when it’s like that, especially after having that scenario quite a few times this season.
“The tough thing is to keep going, it’s easy to stop, stand still, lump the ball forward and just hope for something.
“But we’ve got to take some credit for keeping trying to play and moving the ball around.”
He added: “Luckily enough, Vaughany has popped up with a wonder strike and I’ve managed to get one at the end.
“Goals decide games and in the second half, I was a bit disappointed with my own performance. I got into some decent crossing positions and I couldn’t get any good crosses in.
“So I’m happy I got the goal, especially after last weekend. It was a tough week after missing that penalty and Wolves turning around a game we should have won.
“Of course, when you miss a penalty, you feel quite responsible.”