Darron Gibson has turned his Sunderland career around plus five other things learned from Nottingham Forest win
Sunderland may have ruined Christmas with the dismal Boxing Day defeat to Sheffield United but they ended the year with a superb win at Nottingham Forest.
Aiden McGeady's header five minutes before half-time was enough to seal three precious points at The City Ground.
Here's what we learned from Chris Coleman's third victory since taking charge.
Sunderland DO have the mental toughness needed to survive:
Coleman was fuming in the aftermath of the Sheffield United defeat and rightly so after the worst display of the season.
The tone and mood of his press conference at Forest couldn't have been more contrasting, Sunderland's players rightly winning the plaudits of their manger.
Many questioned the mental toughness and character of this Sunderland side following the Boxing Day defeat. They proved at Forest they do have what it takes to turn the season around.
Now they must show it on a more consistent basis. Forest is the benchmark.
Darron Gibson has turned his Sunderland career around:
What a transformation Gibson has enjoyed under Coleman. With the manager's central midfield options decimated through injury with Lee Cattermole, Jonny Williams, Paddy McNair and Didier Ndong all out, Gibson has stepped up to the plate in recent weeks.
Gibson is struggling with a groin problem but completed 90 minutes against Forest, dictating play in the holding midfield role.
He was constantly closing down the Forest midfield, pressing them intently. In possession, Gibson is Sunderland's best passer and he proved it against Forest.
Now one of the first names on the teamsheet.
George Honeyman excellent alongside Gibson:
Honeyman has come in for some criticism in recent games but he was back to his energetic and hardworking best against Forest.
Lacking sharpness at Bramall Lane, Honeyman was excellent at the City Ground and as Coleman said post-match he covered every blade of grass.
He complimented Gibson well in central midfield, Gibson sitting and dictating play while Honeyman did the graft around him, crucially winning several free-kicks to relieve pressure.
Sunderland hit by ANOTHER injury:
Victory over Mark Warburton's side was a good way to end what has been a dismal 2017 for Sunderland.
Ty Browning shrugged off a badly bruised foot to complete 90 minutes while Gibson overcame his ongoing groin problems to play a key role.
But it wouldn't be Sunderland if they didn't pick up another injury. The latest casualty Lynden Gooch, victim of a hamstring injury.
It rules him out of the Barnsley game on New Year's Day and his energy and work rate would have been useful to Coleman.
Sunderland currently have eight players out injured.
Much-needed victory drags other sides into relegation mix:
With Birmingham City and Bolton Wanderers also winning, it was crucial Sunderland held on for the win.
Forest hit the post late on but Sunderland were comfortable for large parts of the game despite Forest dominating the play and possession.
As well as seeing Sunderland climb out of the relegation zone, it also pulled the Black Cats closer to some of the sides above them.
Sunderland, Burton, Bolton and Birmingham have picked up some important wins in recent weeks to cause concern for those sides in lower mid-table.
Coleman deserves praise for game management and use of subs:
Final word goes to the manager who deserves praise for the way he lifted the side after the Boxing Day defeat, making three changes to his starting line-up.
Donald Love, Josh Maja and Callum McManaman all came in and did a job.
Coleman also used his subs well, with James Vaughan brought on at the right time to add some physical presence up front.
Meanwhile, Gooch added fresh legs and energy to midfield and made a positive impact as did Bryan Oviedo from the subs bench.
Sunderland are down to the bare bones but Coleman at least had good options from the bench and he used them well.