Jermain Defoe's priceless double gave Sunderland three points in their basement battle with Aston Villa, to end a run of five successive defeats.
Defoe's second half brace handed Sam Allardyce's side the result that they so desperately needed against bottom side Villa, in a predictably nervy Stadium of Light encounter.
Sunderland were absolutely wretched for the opening half-hour, but benefited from a hefty slice of fortune to break the deadlock when Patrick van Aanholt's shot was wickedly deflected into the net off Micah Richards.
But Villa pulled level after the break in spectacular fashion when Carles Gil netted a quite sublime volley after Sunderland were caught on the counter-attack.
To their credit, Sunderland weren't finished though, with Defoe producing a superb individual goal to regain the advantage, before the England international sealed the points in stoppage time.
Sunderland were a bag of nerves in the opening exchanges, with Leandro Bacuna firing wide a couple of times before Vito Mannone came to the rescue in the eighth minute.
Bacuna turned van Aanholt far too easily before the Villa right winger crossed to the back post, where Jordan Vertout met it with a sweetly-struck first-time volley back across goal, which was brilliantly turned away by Mannone.
But after a desperate opening half-hour from Sunderland, they went ahead after benefiting from a huge slice of fortune.
Van Aanholt advanced forwards down the left and hit a left-footed shot from 25 yards, which took a huge deflection off Villa skipper Richards and left goalkeeper Brad Guzan completely wrong-footed.
Sunderland remained nervy at the start of the second half, but Defoe had a sight of goal in the 57th minute, but his right-foot shot from 15 yards was comfortable for Guzan low to his left.
Van Aanholt was a whisker away from a second five minutes later after collecting Lee Cattermole's excellent crossfield pass and letting fly from 25 yards with a shot which swerved just wide of the near post.
Moments later, Villa equalised after Sunderland were completely caught out on the counter-attack and were punished in devastating fashion.
Fabio Borini lost possession on the left wing, midway inside the Villa half, and substitute Adama Traore sprinted down the right before lifting the ball to the far post.
There looked to be too much on the delivery, but Carlos met it with a quite brilliant volley back across goal beyond Mannone.
But Sunderland regained the advantage in the 72nd minute as Defoe netted his fifth Premier League goal of the season.
Adam Johnson clipped the ball into Defoe's path on the edge of the Villa area and he brought it under control, before making a yard on Joleon Lescott and smashing a shot inside the near post.
Villa striker Rudy Gestede had a sighter in the last minute, but fired into the side netting from the right-hand side of goal.
Defoe then sealed the points with his second in stoppage time after Ola Toivonen played a one-two with fellow substitute Danny Graham from a throw-in.
Toivonen squared it to Defoe, six yards out, who immaculately placed it beyond Guzan at the near post.
Sunderland: Mannone, Jones, Brown, O'Shea, van Aanholt, Cattermole, M'Vila, Johnson (Coates 88), Watmore (Graham 56), Borini (Toivonen 80), Defoe. Subs not used: Pantilimon, Lens, Yedlin, Fletcher. Booked: Brown (26), Borini (32), Cattermole (90)
Aston Villa: Guzan, Cissokho, Richards, Lescott, Hutton (Kozak 76), Gana, Gil, Bacuna, Grealish (Traore 57, Sinclair 89)), Vertout, Gestede. Subs not used: Bunn, Okore, Clark, Richardson. Booked: Hutton (43), Traore (69), Gil (87)