Impressive Sunderland victory eases O’Neill’s pain

Craig Gardner slots home Sunderland's penalty leveller at Wigan yesterday
Craig Gardner slots home Sunderland's penalty leveller at Wigan yesterday
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MARTIN O’Neill felt Sunderland’s stirring win over Wigan yesterday has helped ease some of the pain felt crashing out of the FA Cup midweek, writes Graeme Anderson.

“I’m still disappointed by the FA Cup,” he said after seeing the Black Cats clinch a 3-2 win at Wigan.

“I wanted us to beat Bolton.

“I wanted us to play against Everton in the next round, even though that doesn’t necessarily mean we would have beaten them if we had.

“But the Wigan game makes up for a lot.

“We were a magnificent in the first half and we had chances in the second – if Stephane Sessegnon had scored a great chance in the second half it might have been a more comfortable afternoon for us.

“Credit to Wigan, they kept on coming.

“Simon Mignolet makes a great, great save from Shaun Maloney which might have made it interesting had he not done so.

“But by the same token Stephane Sessegnon missed that great chance – both big moments that could have changed the game.

“It was one of those games, though, where it was all action.

“When Wigan made it 3-2 it was all hands to the pump.

“We have had to use a lot of fight and determination, qualities I’ve talked a lot about this season, and it was those qualities that saw us through.”

There was praise from O’Neill for two-goal Steven Fletcher and debutant Alfred N’Diaye.

“I thought Fletcher was fantastic,” said the Sunderland manager. “Fantastic, not just in terms of his goals but his centre-forward display overall and we took great heart from his performance.

“As for Alfred, he is a strong lad, full of vitality, but when he learns the game he’s going to be really good.

“He could have scored – when put one over the bar early on – but then after that he provided an assist for our second goal. It was a real good debut and there’s a lot more to come from him.

“All in all, it was a good day for us.

“Since we got beaten at Manchester United we’ve been on a really good run and, against Wigan, I can’t complain about the result we got from a very demanding game.”

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* Don’t miss the Football Echo - out today - for the biggest and best coverage of Sunderland’s victory.