Chris Coleman said there were some "huge performances" in the goalless draw at Wolves, with Darron Gibson singled out for praise.
The Republic of Ireland international enjoyed his best performance in a Sunderland shirt, especially once the Black Cats went down to ten men after Lee Cattermole was booked twice within a minute in the second half.
Gibson was Sunderland's best midfielder on the ball second half and worked hard off the ball too, pressing and winning the ball back from the Wolves midfield.
Coleman praised Gibson, describing the midfielder's positional play as "outstanding".
Gibson stepped up following Cattermole's red card and helped lead the Sunderland midfield against a lively Wolves side, erratic finishing costing the hosts.
But Sunderland deserved credit for a resilient defensive showing, with Gibson leading the way in the holding midfield role.
"Darron Gibson played smart, his positional play was outstanding and it needed to be to counter the movement from Wolves' front three," said Coleman.
"The way they interchange, their win backs are like wingers and try to stretch you.
"You need to keep your shape and we were disciplined. Darron was a key example of that.
"When the pair of them were on, Lee and Darron, we said don't move from the centre of the pitch, sit in front of the defence, their movement is outstanding.
"There was some huge performances."