Sunderland boss Steve Bruce was pleased his players showed spirit as their 4-2 win over Wigan came at a cost on Saturday.All six goals were scored in the second half at the Stadium of Light and Wigan went back into the relegation zone on the back of the defeat.
Mohamed Diame had given the visitors the lead but it lasted barely three minutes as a Jordan Henderson brace and goals from Asamoah Gyan and Stephane Sessegnon gave Sunderland a 4-1 lead.
Substitute Franco di Santo pulled a goal back for Wigan late on.
Bruce paid a price for the win, however, as both Phil Bardsley and Gyan were stretchered off and Danny Welbeck also had to be substituted.
“Unbelievable. We go a goal behind and we’ve lost two or three players. We’ve lost every striker at the club but we managed to score four,” Bruce told Sky Sports.
“It doesn’t really make sense but thankfully they’ve shown a bit or resilience and they needed to.”
“It was a bit anxious and a bit nervy at times but we’ve dug deep and got the result we need which catapults us back into the top 10.”
“But we can’t mask over exactly what’s happened to us with the injuries and it nearly wrecked today as well which is the disappointing thing.”
The win broke a nine-game winless run for Sunderland but Bruce will be forced to finish the season with barely a striker left in the squad.
Bruce said there was a problem his club needed to address.
“It’s caused us a huge problem over the last three months,” he said.
“Thankfully today we’ve got away with it and the ones who have really played well, the young ones today especially, have stood up to the task.”
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez says it was ‘impossible’ for his side to get a result with big calls going Sunderland’s way in the loss.
Martinez rued referee Lee Probert’s decision to award Sunderland a 73rd-minute penalty that Sessegnon converted.
“I’m disappointed because it was a very different performance until the first goal. I felt we were well in control, we were growing into the game but we stopped Sunderland completely and then the hardest thing is to score that away goal,” Martinez told Sky Sports.
“From then on we just got a little bit anxious and then we got punished. The penalty is just a ridiculous decision. It is a shoulder-to-shoulder action that should never have been given.”
“And then all of a sudden they get a two-goal lead and then you are chasing the game and the scoreline does not reflect the performance.”
“Overall it was two completely different games. Unfortunately the big calls didn’t go our way and it was impossible to get a result.”
Martinez still feels his team are competitive enough to avoid relegation and that the battle to avoid the drop will come down to the last day of the season.