Sam Allardyce says Sunderland needed to take the scalp of one of the Premier League’s heavyweights if they were to keep their survival bid on track.
A first Wearside top flight victory over Manchester United since 1997 was unable to lift Sunderland out of the relegation zone, yet the gap with safety is now down to a solitary point, while the Black Cats have narrowed the gap on the likes of fellow relegation contenders Swansea and Bournemouth.
Prior to the encounter, Allardyce admitted Sunderland needed six wins from the final 13 games if they were to remain in the top flight.
With United one of four games against the top six, Sunderland faced the challenge of having to produce a coupon buster in one of them.
But unlike in the defeat to Manchester City a fortnight ago, Sunderland made their dominance count against United to give their survival hopes a significant shot in the arm.
Allardyce said: “There had to be a result and victory like that somewhere along the line.
“The disappointing thing was the Man City performance got us nothing and then you’re wondering if we can play that well and not win, then what the hell do we have to do?
“But we played that well again against Man United, so we put that bogey to bed.”
Sunderland’s tally now stands at 23 points from 26 games, with Allardyce again reiterating the importance of matching those two numbers as quickly as possible.
He added: “Without wanting to repeat myself - because I’ve said this over and over again - we’ve got to get closer to matching the points with games played.
“That can only be our first target.
“How quickly can we get to that?
“Before we get to 30 games, can we have 28 points from 28 games?
“If we can do that before now and that time, then we’re going in the right direction.”