An impressive first half from the Latics saw their performance take a dive after the break, with the Black Cats building on a Jordi Gomez red card to grab the winSunderland enjoyed their first Premier League win of this campaign with a 1-0 win over Wigan at the Stadium of Light in a game that was very much a tale of two halves.
A red card for Jordi Gomez rendered the visitors a man down just after the break, with Steven Fletcher taking advantage and crashing home the winner for Martin O’Neill’s Black Cats.
Sunderland entered the game looking to end an unwanted run of 0 wins in their last 12 Premier League outings, meanwhile Wigan were looking to build on their 4-1 League Cup win over West Ham.
Latics boss O'Neill gave England international Adam Johnson his first start following his summer move from Manchester City. Sebastian Larsson moved into the center alongside Jack Colback, who filled the boots of suspended Lee Cattermole.
Wigan enjoyed a strong lineup at the Stadium of Light. Roberto Martinez started Franco Di Santo on the bench, with Jordi Gomez coming on in his place. The former Swansea player played up front with Shaun Maloney and Arouna Kone.
Wigan started the game in impressive fashion, the visitors troubling Mignolet in the Sunderland goal after just three minutes of the first half. The home defense fumbled a poor clearance before gifting the ball to James McCarthy, who drove a fearsome left-footed strike towards goal only to see it narrowly saved by the foot of Mignolet.
The Latics looked certain to break the deadlock on the quarter hour mark. Jean Beausejour dispatched a well struck cross from the wing into Arouna Kone, who hit a beautifully connected strike on the volley only to see Mignolet produce an outstanding dive to keep his side level.
The home side showed signs of a fight back midway through the first period. Johnson was deemed to have been unfairly taken down just outside the Wigan penalty area to gift Sunderland a free kick only to see Sebastian Larsson crash it into the Latics' wall.
Sunderland found itself with another free kick on the edge of the box just seconds later. Larsson stepped up to whip in a curling drive straight at goal only to see Ivan Ramis narrowly scramble it off the line before Steven Fletcher cleared the danger with a header following the ball being crossed back in.
The visitors replied in aggressive fashion, countering the Black Cats’ attack with a fast-paced run upfield before Gomez pulled back and dragged over the ball from outside the box before threading the ball into the run of Kone, who caught the ball awkwardly before watching it fly embarrassingly wide and into the hands of Mignolet.
Following a strong showing during the game’s opening 30 minutes, James McArthur saw himself on the receiving end of a yellow card from referee Howard Webb following a late challenge on Sessengnon in the center circle.
After a promising period of possession, Sunderland found themselves on the back foot in the minutes leading up to the break. McCarthy looked set to break the deadlock when he cut into the ball’s run from 20 yards out before drifting near the box and driving a powerful shot at goal, provoking a marvelous save from Mignolet on his right.
Referee Webb pounced back into actions with the second half just seconds old, showing Wigan’s Gomez a red card for a reckless studs-up challenge on Danny Rose just inside the Latics' half.
Sunderland drew much confidence from Gomez’s dismissal, the Black Cats pushing forward with pace before seeing McClean fire a poorly struck shot towards goal only to see it drift to Fletcher, who blasted a corker from across the area, breezing past Wigan’s Al-Habsi with frightening ease to put his side ahead.
Wigan were lucky not to concede just minutes following the home side’s first. Sessegnon hit a right-footed screamer across goal before provoking a wonderful diving clearance from Al Habsi.
The Latics’ defense endured a close shave when McClean cut through the Wigan midfield with a surprising amount of confidence before driving up the inside, dragging his foot over and dispatching a well-aimed cross over the six yard box before failing to find a Sunderland player near the post.
A Wigan comeback looked likely when Beausejour laid off a cracking pass into the run of Di Santo, who failed to connect with any real vigor and only managed to see the ball glide into the stands much to the enjoyment of the Sunderland faithful.
Miyaichi attempted to push forward an offensive movement for the Latics, but his footing was a little off as he gifted Sunderland an opportunity on the break. Larsson brought the home side’s attack up near the box before dispatching to Fletcher, who was deemed offside.
The game enjoyed five minutes of stoppage time at the end of the clash, but the home side’s domination was not compromised as O’Neill’s Black Cats hung on to grab a well-deserved three points over a Wigan side which failed to get going in the second half.