Best yet, insists O’Neill

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In terms of achievement, manager Martin O’Neill ranked last night’s win at Wigan above Sunday’s victory over Premier League leaders Manchester City, writes Graeme Anderson.

The Sunderland boss was utterly elated with the last-gasp victory over the mighty Manchester money-machine which got 2012 off to the best possible start.

But he reckoned that the way his weary warriors roused themselves for the challenge of last night’s wet and windy challenge at Wigan was an even greater feat.

“I thought it was the best result since I’ve arrived,” he said of the 4-1 win.

“Man City was a great win for us and to score in the last minute was unforgettable.

“But we had a day less to prepare for the Wigan game than our opponents did and the game itself came just two days after that tremendous effort against City.

“So to come to the DW Stadium just two days afterwards, with even more injured and struggling players, and to perform the way we did in those conditions, with the energy we did, it was terrific.

“I’ve got to say that the players were outstanding.”

Sunderland’s performance threatened briefly to mirror that of their last away display when they let a two-goal lead slip at QPR.

The Wearsiders got themselves 2-0 in front early in the second half, only to be pegged back to 2-1 by the Latics, but this time it was Sunderland who got the next goal and that was one of the things that pleased the manager the most.

“I couldn’t imagine we would produce the energy levels we did – particularly at 2-1 when we summoned up the energy to go up the field and make it 3-1,” he said. “That was remarkable.

“But I think part of that was just down to the team’s sheer will to keep this decent run going.

“I think the players know that if you drop points, you lose confidence and they were very, very keen to avoid losing any confidence.”