An indisciplined performance from Southampton provided Sunderland with a big boost to its survival hopes in a 2-1 win
Jordi Gomez scored two penalties as Sunderland boosted its Premier League survival hopes with a 2-1 victory over 10-man Southampton.
Having seen Leicester City beat Newcastle United 3-0 earlier in the day, Sunderland needed maximum points in its penultimate home game of the season at the Stadium of Light on Saturday to avoid being cut adrift in the bottom three.
And the home side was given a helping hand thanks to some haphazard defending from Southampton in a game that stood in stark contrast to the 8-0 hammering Sunderland suffered at St Mary's Stadium in the reverse fixture in October.
Gomez opened the scoring for Dick Advocaat's men in the 21st minute with a coolly converted spot kick following Jose Fonte's foul on Danny Graham.
Sunderland had barely finished celebrating when Sadio Mane took advantage of a calamitous defensive error less than two minutes later.
However, the home side was given another lifeline as James Ward-Prowse was sent off for bringing down Jermain Defoe, with midfielder Gomez stepping up to score a 55th-minute winner and move the Wearsiders to within a point of safety.
A seemingly innocuous long ball forward gave Gomez the opportunity to put Sunderland in front as Fonte felled Graham after Maya Yoshida had failed to clear.
Gomez stepped up and slotted the ball into the bottom-right corner, but the lead lasted just 78 seconds, as Mane capitalized on a breakdown in communication in the Sunderland defense.
Costel Pantilimon collided with Sebastian Coates and John O'Shea as he came to collect Fonte's ball forward and Mane made no mistake in pouncing on the goalkeeper's fumble and tucking into the empty net.
Things then got worse for Sunderland when captain O'Shea - who had received treatment following an earlier collision with Shane Long - came off with an injury to be replaced by Santiago Vergini.
Yet Sunderland saw a great chance to retake the lead go begging, as Connor Wickham fired over the crossbar at the end of a well-worked attacking move down the left flank.
Nine minutes after the restart the game took a major swing in Sunderland's favor when Ward-Prowse bundled Defoe over as the striker attempted to race onto Graham's lay-off.
Referee Mike Jones showed no hesitation in brandishing the red card and Gomez again kept his cool from the spot with a confidently taken penalty.
Mane then limped off and was replaced by Eljero Elia in another blow to Southampton's hopes of a top-six finish on a disappointing day for the south-coast club.
Southampton never threatened a late equalizer, but the wins for Leicester and Aston Villa's 3-2 success against Everton mean that Sunderland still has plenty of work to do in a tight battle against the drop.