Martin O'Neill made a dramatic entrance at The Stadium of Light as Sunderland struck twice late on to snatch victory against fellow strugglers Blackburn Rovers.
Simon Vukcevic's early goal looked destined to condemn O'Neill to defeat in his first official game in charge since succeeding sacked Steve Bruce - until Sunderland's persistence and pressure was rewarded in a late turnaround.
David Vaughan equalised with a 25-yard drive in the 84th minute and, with Blackburn hanging on desperately, Sebastian Larsson's injury-time free-kick sent O'Neill into one of his familiar frenetic touchline celebrations.
In sharp contrast, Blackburn manager Steve Kean turned away in disappointment as he saw the opportunity to relieve the pressure on his position with a second successive win snatched away.
Sunderland's victory moves them out of the Premier League's bottom three - and there was still time for Kean to feel the anger of the hardy band of just 316 supporters who travelled from Lancashire to Wearside.
His side have won only once in the Premier League since September and have taken just six points from a possible 30.
O'Neill will be hoping for better fortunes - and made his entrance to a thunderous roar from Sunderland's fans for the start of a new era - but he was soon acquainted with the familiar problems that led to his appointment.
After observing Sunderland's defeat by Wolves from the stand , O'Neill moved to the sidelines to watch a performance high on endeavour but short on real quality and serious threat until the final few minutes.
They struggled to break through Blackburn's blue and white wall of defensive resistance, with captain Chris Samba magnificent.
Bottom of the Premier League
Correct at 11 December 2011
But O'Neill will hope this crucial third league victory of the season will now provide the required reserves of confidence.
Sunderland started with a surge of adrenalin, but this was soon replaced by anxiety in defence and Blackburn had claims for a penalty ignored by referee Peter Walton when Yakubu tangled with the recalled Titus Bramble.
It was only a brief reprieve for Sunderland as Blackburn took the lead. Samba was allowed too much time to get a shot in at a free-kick and goalkeeper Keiren Westwood could only palm his shot straight on to the head of the incoming Vukcevic.
Sunderland then offered O'Neill more evidence of their flaws when they wasted an instant opportunity to equalise. Jason Lowe slipped in the six-yard box to allow Stephane Sessegnon's cross to fall at the feet of Kieran Richardson, who seemed surprised to get the chance and allowed Blackburn keeper Paul Robinson to block.
Blackburn felt they were the victims of an injustice as the interval approached when Westwood missed Morten Gamst Pedersen's free-kick under challenge from Samba, leaving Scott Dann to turn in - but referee Walton ruled the keeper had been fouled.
Rovers lost Gael Givet in the first half, replaced by Martin Olsson - but he went off injured at half-time for Adam Henley. Blackburn boss Kean was then forced to use his third substitute before the hour when Grant Hanley came on for Michel Salgado.
Sunderland continued to apply pressure without creating clear-cut openings but Robinson was called into action after 64 minutes to turn away Richardson's deflected shot in acrobatic fashion.
As time ran out, Vaughan delivered a spectacular first goal of the O'Neill reign when he picked up a loose ball from Henley's headed clearance and fired past the motionless Robinson.
And with The Stadium of Light and O'Neill scenting victory, Larsson curled a free-kick in at the near post to spark ecstatic scenes after Mauro Formica was penalised for handball.
Blackburn's Lowe was taken off on a stretcher after a blow to the head in the dying seconds to complete a miserable conclusion for Kean's side.
For O'Neill, though, this was the perfect start and gave Sunderland the instant impact chairman and owner Ellis Short wanted when he made his appointment.
- 20 Westwood
- 02 Bardsley
- 05 Brown
- 11 Richardson
- 16 O'Shea Booked
- 19 Bramble
- 07 Larsson
- 14 Colback (McClean - 76' )
- 15 Vaughan
- 28 Sessegnon Booked
- 10 Wickham (Ji Dong-Won - 76' )
- 24 Carson
- 12 Kilgallon
- 18 Meyler
- 23 McClean
- 27 Elmohamady
- 17 Ji Dong-Won
- 31 Noble
- 01 Robinson
- 02 Salgado Booked (Hanley - 51' )
- 04 Samba Booked
- 05 Givet (Olsson - 22' )
- 16 Dann
- 08 Dunn
- 10 Formica
- 12 Pedersen
- 29 Vukcevic
- 35 Lowe
- 24 Yakubu
- 13 Bunn
- 03 Olsson (Henley - 46' )
- 31 Hanley
- 39 Henley
- 22 Blackman
- 25 Goodwillie
- 30 Roberts
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee signals the end of the game.90:00 +4:11 Booking
Booking Christopher Samba goes into the book for dissent.90:00 +1:59
Assist by Phillip Bardsley.90:00 +1:52
The assist for the goal came from Phillip Bardsley.90:00 +1:52 Goal scored
Goal! - Sebastian Larsson - Sunderland 2 - 1 Blackburn Sebastian Larsson scores a goal direct from the free kick from just outside the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Sunderland 2-1 Blackburn.90:00 +0:53
Mauro Formica is penalised for a handball.88:09
Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Sebastian Larsson from the left by-line.87:13
David Dunn produces a cross.86:20
Kieran Richardson produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide right of the target.83:34
Assist on the goal came from Phillip Bardsley.83:34 Goal scored
Goal! - David Vaughan - Sunderland 1 - 1 Blackburn David Vaughan gets on the score sheet with a goal from long distance to the top right corner of the goal. Sunderland 1-1 Blackburn.81:51
David Dunn is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick. Kieran Richardson shoots direct from the free kick.81:24
David Vaughan takes a shot. Blocked by Ayegbeni Yakubu.81:00
Sebastian Larsson takes a inswinging corner to the near post.80:53
James McClean sends in a cross, Grant Hanley gets a block in.80:03
The ball is crossed by Sebastian Larsson, Christopher Samba makes a clearance.78:55
James McClean takes a shot. Grant Hanley gets a block in. Stephane Sessegnon takes a shot from just inside the penalty box which clears the bar.77:48
The ball is swung over by James McClean, Paul Robinson makes a comfortable save.76:49
Sebastian Larsson takes a outswinging corner.76:42
Sebastian Larsson takes a shot. Save made by Paul Robinson.
James McClean crosses the ball.74:59
Keiren Westwood takes the indirect free kick.74:59 Substitution
Substitution (Sunderland) makes a substitution, with Dong-Won Ji coming on for Connor Wickham.74:59 Substitution
Substitution James McClean joins the action as a substitute, replacing Jack Colback.74:59
David Vaughan challenges Morten Gamst Pedersen unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Morten Gamst Pedersen. The assistant referee signals for offside against Christopher Samba.74:18
The referee blows for offside against Connor Wickham. Paul Robinson takes the indirect free kick.73:22
The ball is swung over by John O'Shea.71:58
Centre by Phillip Bardsley, clearance made by Morten Gamst Pedersen.71:21
Jack Colback takes a shot. Blocked by David Dunn. Inswinging corner taken by David Vaughan from the right by-line.70:55
Phillip Bardsley produces a cross.68:57
The ball is sent over by Sebastian Larsson, Scott Dann makes a clearance.65:36
Kieran Richardson crosses the ball.64:42
Kieran Richardson takes a shot from 25 yards. Paul Robinson makes a save. Inswinging corner taken by Sebastian Larsson from the left by-line, save by Paul Robinson.63:25
Grant Hanley challenges Stephane Sessegnon unfairly and gives away a free kick. Sebastian Larsson crosses the ball in from the free kick, Christopher Samba manages to make a clearance.63:07
Centre by Sebastian Larsson, Scott Dann makes a clearance.61:41
Shot by David Dunn from outside the box goes over the target.61:03
Direct free kick taken by Morten Gamst Pedersen.61:03 Booking
Booking Booking for Stephane Sessegnon.61:01
Foul by Stephane Sessegnon on Morten Gamst Pedersen, free kick awarded.60:13
Unfair challenge on Simon Vukcevic by Connor Wickham results in a free kick. Paul Robinson takes the free kick.55:05
Kieran Richardson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Grant Hanley. Paul Robinson takes the free kick.53:54
Unfair challenge on David Dunn by Jack Colback results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Paul Robinson.52:40
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Kieran Richardson from the right by-line to the near post.52:30
Kieran Richardson takes a shot. Morten Gamst Pedersen gets a block in.51:29
Stephane Sessegnon has an effort at goal from outside the area which misses left.50:20 Substitution
Substitution Grant Hanley on for Michel Salgado.49:01
Jack Colback fouled by David Dunn, the ref awards a free kick. Strike comes in from Sebastian Larsson from the free kick.47:07
Kieran Richardson produces a cross.46:40
The ball is sent over by Kieran Richardson, Christopher Samba manages to make a clearance.45:01
The second half has started.45:01 Substitution
Substitution Martin Olsson goes off and Adam Henley comes on.45:00 +3:23 Half time
Half Time The players leave the pitch at half time.45:00 +2:38
Phillip Bardsley crosses the ball, Christopher Samba makes a clearance.45:00 +2:26
Titus Bramble fouled by Ayegbeni Yakubu, the ref awards a free kick. Titus Bramble restarts play with the free kick.45:00 +2:15
A cross is delivered by Kieran Richardson.45:00 +1:34
A cross is delivered by Sebastian Larsson, clearance by Christopher Samba.44:55
Keiren Westwood takes the direct free kick.44:55 Booking
Booking Michel Salgado goes into the book.44:45
Unfair challenge on Phillip Bardsley by Michel Salgado results in a free kick.43:03
Kieran Richardson produces a cross.41:42
The ball is swung over by John O'Shea, Paul Robinson makes a save.40:03
Foul by Stephane Sessegnon on Morten Gamst Pedersen, free kick awarded. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Morten Gamst Pedersen from left channel, Keiren Westwood fouled by Christopher Samba, the ref awards a free kick. Keiren Westwood takes the free kick.38:29
David Dunn is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Keiren Westwood.37:38
Morten Gamst Pedersen delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from left wing, clearance made by Sebastian Larsson.37:38 Booking
Booking Booking for John O'Shea.37:33
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Simon Vukcevic by John O'Shea.36:43
The ball is sent over by Jason Lowe, save made by Keiren Westwood.36:20
Sebastian Larsson sends in a cross, clearance made by Morten Gamst Pedersen.35:47
Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Sebastian Larsson played to the near post, clearance by Christopher Samba.35:38
A cross is delivered by Phillip Bardsley, clearance made by Christopher Samba.35:29
A cross is delivered by John O'Shea, clearance made by Scott Dann.35:17
The ball is swung over by Phillip Bardsley, clearance made by Martin Olsson.35:03
Free kick awarded for a foul by David Dunn on Jack Colback. David Vaughan takes the direct free kick.33:09
Connor Wickham delivers the ball, comfortable save by Paul Robinson.31:43
David Vaughan takes a shot from deep inside the box clearing the bar.29:40
Phillip Bardsley takes a shot. Michel Salgado gets a block in. Stephane Sessegnon has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the left of the target.27:36
Connor Wickham challenges Martin Olsson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Paul Robinson takes the direct free kick.23:53
Unfair challenge on David Dunn by Stephane Sessegnon results in a free kick. Morten Gamst Pedersen restarts play with the free kick.22:24
Shot from just outside the area by Stephane Sessegnon misses to the left of the target.21:45
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Kieran Richardson, clearance made by Scott Dann.21:36 Substitution
Substitution Martin Olsson is brought on as a substitute for Gael Givet.20:53
The ball is delivered by Sebastian Larsson, clearance made by Scott Dann. Kieran Richardson takes a shot. Jason Lowe gets a block in.20:42
Kieran Richardson sends in a cross, Scott Dann makes a clearance.20:37
Kieran Richardson delivers the ball, clearance made by Scott Dann.18:58
Stephane Sessegnon sends in a cross, Kieran Richardson takes a shot. Paul Robinson makes a fantastic save.17:53
Effort from outside the penalty box by Connor Wickham goes wide left of the goal.16:50
Christopher Samba provided the assist for the goal.16:50 Goal scored
Goal! - Simon Vukcevic - Sunderland 0 - 1 Blackburn Simon Vukcevic grabs a headed goal from close in. Sunderland 0-1 Blackburn.16:45
Christopher Samba takes a shot. Save made by Keiren Westwood.16:06
Unfair challenge on Ayegbeni Yakubu by Sebastian Larsson results in a free kick. Morten Gamst Pedersen delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from left wing.14:24
Connor Wickham is caught offside. Paul Robinson restarts play with the free kick.13:34
Mauro Formica fouled by Jack Colback, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Paul Robinson.6:59
The ball is swung over by John O'Shea, clearance by Christopher Samba.6:30
Phillip Bardsley crosses the ball, David Dunn makes a clearance.6:24
The ball is delivered by Sebastian Larsson.5:03
Sebastian Larsson crosses the ball, clearance by Christopher Samba. Phillip Bardsley takes a shot from just outside the penalty area clears the crossbar.3:34
Jack Colback produces a cross, Scott Dann makes a clearance.3:14
Kieran Richardson takes a inswinging corner to the near post, Christopher Samba makes a clearance.2:57
Phillip Bardsley takes a shot. Blocked by Christopher Samba.1:33
Michel Salgado is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Sebastian Larsson, clearance made by Jason Lowe.0:30
Ayegbeni Yakubu gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Wes Brown. Keiren Westwood takes the direct free kick.0:00
The game kicks-off.
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