A very impressive display from Latics saw us leave the Stadium of Light with all three points, the scoreline of 2-1 slightly flattered Sunderland but there was no arguing from either set of fans that we were good for the win.
Although it took Latics ten minutes to find their feet, there was little going on from the hosts to trouble us, Cisse tried from long range an nearly wiped out the corner flag and a cross from Bardsley was easily gathered by Kirkland.
But that is when we got our foothold and Ben Watson was first to capitalise from this possession we were enjoying. He received the ball in midfield after a poor clearance and then he was allowed plenty of time to weigh up his options before letting loose from 30 yards.
The ball guided itself into the bottom corner and the young midfielder recorded his first goal for the club, something the player he replaced didn’t manage to do in 41 starts for us. The goal then triggered some decent amounts of pressure from, although we didn’t for the most part take advantage of it.
Sunderland was restricted to chances on the break but Chris Kirkland was a match for anything that was coming his way. He pulled off great saves from shots by Cisse, whilst Paul Scharner was getting his fair share at the other end.
The Austrian though just couldn’t find the quality needed to score from the chances that came his way. He headed very tamely wide following a great run and cross by Valencia, when the gaol was at his mercy.
It was though Sunderland which shocked Latics by scoring against the run of play. A rare bit of indecision from the Wigan back line saw Grant Leadbitter gifted the ball and he made no mistake in slotting it in the net for 1-1.
This didn’t bring us down though as almost immediately we saw our next chance but Watson couldn’t repeat his earlier wonder goal and blazed over the bar from 20 yards.
The last chance of the half brought a contender for goal of the season (well if it were a top four club’s player it would). Charles N’Zogbia received the ball after a clearance from defence, he collected just before the half way line before going on a solo run towards the Mackam goal.
Her took on three defenders and darted into the box and then slotted it past the onrushing Fulop and secured the 2-01 half time scoreline. There was a bit of whinging by Sunderland as Kenwyne Jones was lay out on the floor. Luckily for us the referee saw that the player was clutching his face, even though it was his own player he’d collided with, with the back of his head.
The second half nowhere near lived up to the first as both teams couldn’t get a grip on the game. Latics 4-5-1 formation was happy to soak anything coming through midfield and Sunderland didn’t have the quality to break it down.
Chances were few and far between, but Sunderland did manage to get the ball in the net. After a great save from Kirkland lands at Cisse’s feet the French striker fed the ball to Malbranque who crashed the ball in to the goal only for linesman to point out that he was yards offside.
Scharner had the best opportunity of the half as he was given a perfect through ball by N’Zogbia, but again the quality wasn’t there as he shot at the keeper when one on one and Sunderland were kept in the game.
Sunderland ended the game with four strikers on the pitch but they couldn’t get through the Latics rear guard, Bramble once again was superb as were all the defenders. Latics were very good value for the three points and we can all start off the Europe debate again.
Report by Jason Taylor