Steven Fletcher's fifth goal in four Premier League games gave Sunderland their first win of the season against 10-man Wigan at the Stadium of Light.
The visitors enjoyed the better of the first half but life was made difficult for them when Jordi Gomez was sent off on 48 minutes for a foul on Danny Rose.
Black Cats stop the rot
Sunderland's victory ended a run of 12 Premier League games without a win.
Sunderland took advantage minutes later as Fletcher drove home from James McClean's ball to seal victory.
It was the Black Cats' first Premier League win since March.
The home side were given a welcome boost before kick-off as Adam Johnson, who injured his thigh while training with England earlier this month, passed a late fitness test to take make his first appearance at the Stadium of Light since signing for Manchester City last month.
Another of Martin O'Neill's new recruits, Fletcher, went into the game having scored all of Sunderland's goals so far in the Premier League and he was almost presented with an opportunity for another inside the first minute when Ali Al-Habsi was caught unawares by the striker, but the Wigan keeper was able to clear just in time.
O'Neill 'relieved' to seal win
However, it was the visitors who settled into the game more quickly and only a superb save by Simon Mignolet prevented them from taking the lead after 15 minutes. Jean Beausejour's first-time ball across goal found Arouna Kone at the far post, but his point-blank shot was superbly denied by the Belgian.
Sunderland came close to opening the scoring with their first real chance on goal in the 26th minute.
Fletcher was fouled on the left side of the area and Sebastian Larsson's free-kick looked destined for the goal, but Ivan Ramis was on hand to scramble the ball away.
Despite that chance it was the visitors who finished the half stronger as Kone headed over, before James McCarthy's low drive from distance flew just wide of the upright.
But the second half was to be a much harder proposition when, on 48 minutes, Gomez was shown a straight red card for a two-footed lunge on Rose.
It took the hosts only three minutes to capitalise on their man advantage.
Martinez disputes Gomez red card
McClean scampered down the left towards the area before delivering a low ball towards the far post, where Fletcher raced in to smash an unstoppable drive beyond Al-Habsi.
That goal sparked Sunderland into life and they had a couple of chances to add a second minutes later as Stephane Sessegnon first saw his low shot pushed behind by Al-Habsi, before the Benin midfielder was just wide with an effort from McClean's cross.
But after that brief flurry of chances, the game descended into a scrappy affair, with both sides struggling to create inside the final third.
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill:
"We have the win and we are unbeaten so far this season. Steven Fletcher was fantastic, not just scoring the goal but his overall centre-forward play. He was terrific, he is a really fine player.
"I am not concerned that our goals are only coming from him at the moment, but I think in time that if he is the one who continues to score for us and no-one else does then that might become a problem. A lot of others are doing good things for us in this run and it will come in time.
"Having a player sent off like Wigan did today does mean you have to re-adjust. During the week in the Capital One Cup, when we lost Lee Cattermole, I am sure that gave MK Dons a major boost and I am sure that is what happened for us in this game."
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez:
"I thought we were the better side in the first half and it was a shame we could not convert any of our chances.
"We tried to push on and put Sunderland under pressure but the things that went against us I don't think we could have done much to control them.
"Every defeat is a concern, you don't want to lose games and it is as simple as that. I thought our first half performance showed we are a team who create opportunities. There was nothing we could do about this 90 minutes and now we must concentrate on our next game."
Foul by Arouna Kone on Jack Colback, free kick awarded. Danny Rose takes the free kick.
Corner taken short by Sebastian Larsson.
Gary Caldwell challenges Steven Fletcher unfairly and gives away a free kick. Jack Colback takes the direct free kick.
Sebastian Larsson fouled by Maynor Figueroa, the ref awards a free kick. Craig Gardner takes the free kick.
Corner taken right-footed by Sebastian Larsson.
Booking The referee cautions Maynor Figueroa for unsporting behaviour.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Ivan Ramis on James McClean. Danny Rose restarts play with the free kick.
85:05 Full time
Full Time The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.
Substitution Emmerson Boyce goes off and Callum McManaman comes on.
Substitution Ryo Miyaichi comes on in place of James McArthur.
Booking Caution for Franco Di Santo.
Direct free kick taken by Ivan Ramis.
Substitution Adam Johnson leaves the field to be replaced by David Vaughan.
James McClean gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jean Beausejour.
Emmerson Boyce fouled by James McClean, the ref awards a free kick. Jean Beausejour restarts play with the free kick.
Shot comes in from Adam Johnson from the free kick, save by Ali Al Habsi.
Booking Gary Caldwell shown a yellow card.
Foul by Gary Caldwell on Steven Fletcher, free kick awarded.
Unfair challenge on James McClean by Emmerson Boyce results in a free kick. Danny Rose takes the direct free kick.
Shot by Franco Di Santo from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the goal.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on James McCarthy by Adam Johnson. Free kick crossed left-footed by Jean Beausejour from left channel, blocked by Maynor Figueroa.
Booking James McClean booked for unsporting behaviour.
Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Sebastian Larsson.
Unfair challenge on Stephane Sessegnon by Maynor Figueroa results in a free kick. Adam Johnson crosses the ball in from the free kick, save made by Ali Al Habsi.
The official flags Adam Johnson offside. Free kick taken by Ali Al Habsi.
Foul by Steven Fletcher on Maynor Figueroa, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Maynor Figueroa.
Gary Caldwell restarts play with the free kick.
Booking Steven Fletcher receives a yellow card.
Steven Fletcher gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Maynor Figueroa.
Jean Beausejour fouled by Jack Colback, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Maynor Figueroa.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Jean Beausejour on Craig Gardner. Free kick taken by Craig Gardner.
James McCarthy concedes a free kick for a foul on Jack Colback. John O'Shea restarts play with the free kick.
Substitution Franco Di Santo on for Shaun Maloney.
Unfair challenge on James McArthur by Adam Johnson results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Gary Caldwell.
Sebastian Larsson restarts play with the free kick.
Booking James McCarthy receives a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
Foul by James McCarthy on James McClean, free kick awarded.
Corner taken by Sebastian Larsson.
Short corner taken by Sebastian Larsson.
Stephane Sessegnon takes a shot. Save by Ali Al Habsi.
The assist for the goal came from James McClean.
50:30 Goal scored
Goal! - Steven Fletcher - Sunderland 1 - 0 Wigan A goal is scored by Steven Fletcher from inside the six-yard box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Sunderland 1-0 Wigan.
James McClean takes a shot.
Unfair challenge on Shaun Maloney by Jack Colback results in a free kick. Gary Caldwell restarts play with the free kick.
Unfair challenge on James McCarthy by Stephane Sessegnon results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Emmerson Boyce.
Dismissal Jordi Gomez shown a red card for violent conduct.
Unfair challenge on Danny Rose by Jordi Gomez results in a free kick. John O'Shea takes the direct free kick.
The game restarts for the second half.
45:00 +35:43 Half time
Half Time The referee calls an end to the first half.
Adam Johnson takes a inswinging corner to the near post, save by Ali Al Habsi.
The ball is delivered by Jean Beausejour.
Effort from a long way out by James McCarthy goes wide right of the target.
The ball is swung over by Emmerson Boyce, Header by Arouna Kone from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on James McCarthy by Danny Rose. Gary Caldwell restarts play with the free kick.
Adam Johnson crosses the ball in from the free kick.
Booking Booking for James McArthur for unsporting behaviour.
Stephane Sessegnon fouled by James McArthur, the ref awards a free kick.
Arouna Kone takes a shot. Save by Simon Mignolet.
Unfair challenge on Arouna Kone by Sebastian Larsson results in a free kick. Gary Caldwell restarts play with the free kick.
James McClean sends in a cross, blocked by Emmerson Boyce. Corner taken by Sebastian Larsson from the left by-line to the near post, Close range headed effort by John O'Shea goes wide of the left-hand upright.
Corner taken by Sebastian Larsson played to the near post, Header from close in by Steven Fletcher misses to the left of the target.
Steven Fletcher fouled by Ivan Ramis, the ref awards a free kick. Strike on goal comes in from Sebastian Larsson from the free kick, Ivan Ramis manages to make a clearance.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Adam Johnson by James McArthur. Shot comes in from Sebastian Larsson from the free kick.
The ball is delivered by Jean Beausejour, clearance by John O'Shea.
Craig Gardner has an effort at goal from outside the penalty box missing to the wide right of the goal.
Unfair challenge on James McArthur by Sebastian Larsson results in a free kick. James McArthur restarts play with the free kick.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Jack Colback on Jordi Gomez. Free kick taken by Gary Caldwell.
Danny Rose takes a shot. Blocked by Gary Caldwell.
James McClean sends in a cross, clearance made by Ivan Ramis.
Shot by Maynor Figueroa missed to the left of the net.
Ivan Ramis fouled by James McClean, the ref awards a free kick. Gary Caldwell takes the free kick.
Shaun Maloney fouled by Titus Bramble, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Shaun Maloney.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Danny Rose on Emmerson Boyce. Free kick crossed left-footed by Jordi Gomez from right channel, save made by Simon Mignolet.
Stephane Sessegnon challenges Gary Caldwell unfairly and gives away a free kick. Ali Al Habsi takes the free kick.
The ball is crossed by Jean Beausejour, Arouna Kone takes a shot. Simon Mignolet makes a save.
Sebastian Larsson has a shot on goal from long range that goes wide left.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Jordi Gomez on Danny Rose. John O'Shea takes the free kick.
Unfair challenge on Stephane Sessegnon by Gary Caldwell results in a free kick. Free kick crossed by Sebastian Larsson, blocked by Arouna Kone.
Adam Johnson challenges Maynor Figueroa unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Ali Al Habsi.
James McClean gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Emmerson Boyce. Free kick crossed left-footed by Shaun Maloney from right wing, John O'Shea makes a clearance.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Maynor Figueroa by Stephane Sessegnon. Ali Al Habsi restarts play with the free kick.
James McCarthy takes a shot. Save by Simon Mignolet. Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Shaun Maloney played to the near post, clearance by Titus Bramble. Jordi Gomez has shot on goal from a long way out that goes wide left.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.