The 50-year-old acknowledged the sending off of Wes Brown was harsh but was delighted with the efforts of his team as they triumphed 2-0 at the Britannia Stadium
Charlie Adam and Steven N'Zonzi scored to secure Stoke's victory at the Britannia Stadium, their first in the league since August, while Gus Poyet's side were left to rue Brown's soft dismissal.
Referee Kevin Friend issued a straight red to the former Manchester United defender, despite minimal contact with Adam.
But Hughes was swift to deflect attention from the controversy onto his side's impressive control of the game.
"I'm sure Gus was a little aggrieved about it but my interpretation of it was that Wes was a little bit out of control, a little bit reckless," said Hughes.
"At the time I thought it was a poor challenge. Whether or not it merited a sending off it, that's the debate after the game, which is a shame because it takes the shine off our performance and I thought we played really well.
"But even at that point, we were 1-0 to the good, I thought we were in control, I felt we had enough to take the game away from Sunderland.
"And you could argue that in the second half, because they had nothing to lose, they threw everybody at it and made a real game of it.
"That’s credit to Gus and his team, and you’ve got to give them credit for that. But whether that would have happened if they’d have had their full (team) out, I'd question that.
"Overall we're pleased with the performance, we're pleased with the two goals we scored – two great finishes from Steven and Charlie. We're really pleased with the outcome.
"You want to take points off teams who are in and around you.
"At the moment Sunderland are one of those teams we need to take maximum points off, and that's what we were able to do. We slipped up against the likes of Norwich and Fulham, so it was an important result for us."