Franco Di Santo scored late on following a Wes Brown mistake to secure Wigan’s first win in nine games as they beat Sunderland at the Stadium of Light to lift themselves off the bottom of the Premier League.
The Black Cats defender botched a clearance from goalkeeper Kieron Westwood in stoppage time with James McArthur stealing and setting up Di Santo as the Latic’s staged a late smash-and-grab on Wearside. Roberto Martinez’s side hadn’t won in their last nine games and had lost eight on the trot prior to last week’s 3-3 draw against North West rivals Blackburn. Whilst they were the victims of a late goal on that occasion they scored their this time round to lift themselves off the foot of the table and to within two points of safety. The defeat will hit home hard for Steve Bruce’s side with supporters expecting their second home win of the season after Sebastian Larsson’s eighth minute opener only to leave the Stadium of Light in shock after Wigan’s late salvo. Despite going into the game low on confidence Wigan displayed a never-say-die attitude that served them well as they kept going until the last minutes in search of victory. They were dealt a helping hand with referee Kevin Friend awarding them a penalty just before half time that Jordi Gomez took full advantage of to equalise before Di Santo’s winner. It was a bitter pill for Bruce to swallow against his old club with his current crop now finding themselves fifth from bottom with only two wins to their name this season.
With local rivals Newcastle looking down on them from the top of the table morale on Wearside was low although supporters were still expecting their side overcome rock bottom Wigan. Their hopes were further enhanced when Larsson opened the scoring after just eight minutes pouncing after Ali Al Habsi had fumbled Nicklas Bendtner’s stinging effort. It was the Swede’s fourth goal since he joined on a free transfer from Birmingham in the summer and proved to be a danger all afternoon. Al Habsi would be a busy man during the first half and had to be alert to deny Kieron Richardson and Brown as the Black Cat’s started the game in a ferocious manner. The Latics barely made an impression in the first period and will have been preparing for some stern words from Martinez before they found an equaliser seconds before the break. Victor Moses’ progress into the Sunderland area was halted by a reckless tackle from Larsson and the it was up to Gomez to cooly convert from 12-yards to score for the second game in a row.
After the break the tempo dropped dramatically as the game became battle between the two midfields although Richardson had a superb opportunity to put his side back in front with 10 minutes to go. Jack Colback made strides down the left before crossing for the former Manchester United midfielder who could only head wide from close range. It would prove crucial as Wigan ensured the contest would end in the most dramatic way possible as they grabbed all three points in stunning fashion. Sunderland were the architects of their own downfall with Westwood’s lobbed pass to Brown bouncing off the defenders knee allowing McArthur to steal the ball and slide it across to Di Santo who had the simplest of tasks of passing the ball into an unguarded net. Whilst the home side left the field dejected the visitors were visibly jubilant as they picked up their first win since August.