Di Santo stuns sorry Sunderland
Bruce under increasing pressure as Black Cats are beaten at home
Last Updated: November 26, 2011 5:56pm
Franco Di Santo stepped off the bench to lift Wigan off the foot of the Premier League table with an injury-time winner against sorry Sunderland.
The striker was left with a tap in into an empty net after Keiren Westwood and Wes Brown gifted the ball away to James McArthur and he set up his grateful team-mate to pile the pressure on Black Cats boss Steve Bruce.
Huge jeers and boos greeted the final whistle seconds after the winner, with chants of 'Bruce out' ringing around the Stadium of Light as Wigan, who had taken just one point from their last nine matches, claimed a precious victory.
The home side had been handed the lead in the eighth minute when goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi failed to deal with a routine shot from Nicklas Bendtner, and although he was able to block Kieran Richardson's follow-up, Sebastian Larsson was on hand to sweep home from point-blank range.
The Latics were back on terms moments before the interval as Victor Moses tumbled under Larsson's challenge on the edge of the area and referee Kevin Friend pointed straight to the spot, despite furious protests from the home side.
Jordi Gomez stepped up and kept his cool to slot home from 12 yards as he sent Westwood the wrong way, with the goalkeeper doing his best to put the Latics man off by bouncing back and forth on his line.
With Sunderland pushing for a winner and the home fans already restless as time ran down, the defensive blunder from Brown handed Wigan the points on a plate and led to the home fans calling for their manager's head.
Sunderland have now won just two of the 15 league games they have played on Wearside since New Year's Day, and Bruce was left in little doubt as to the feelings of the supporters both before and after the final whistle.
Bruce had targeted a return of seven points from a run of four games which started with last week's home clash with Fulham and will continue with a trip to Wolves and Blackburn's visit to the North East.
A single point from the first six on offer represents significantly less than he was expecting, and that is simply not acceptable for those fans who believe the manager is living on borrowed time.
For Wigan, a priceless victory to go with last week's draw with Blackburn after a run of eight defeats provided a welcome boost.
Former Latics boss Bruce went into the game with club chairman Ellis Short having delivered an endorsement of sorts by insisting in his programme notes that there was no need for panic.
For 43 minutes, the home supporters among a crowd of 37,883 must have been reassured that the Texan businessman's confidence was well-founded.
The Black Cats were utterly dominant as Wigan showed exactly why they are languishing at the foot of the table, creating nothing of note going forward and struggling to stem the tide at the back.
Had it not been for keeper Al-Habsi, they might have gone in at the break already beaten as Sunderland created chances at will.
Yet it was the Oman international's error which handed the home side an eighth-minute lead.
Bendtner had been ordered by Bruce to be more selfish in front of goal, and his swerving right-foot shot proved too hot for Al-Habsi to handle.
The keeper spilled the ball and although he managed to block Richardson's follow-up, the ball ran to Larsson and he thumped it home left-footed to get the Black Cats off to the perfect start.
Thereafter, Wigan were indebted to their goalkeeper as Bruce's side threatened to kill the game off in double-quick time.
He produced a fine save low to his left to keep out Richardson's near-post drive and then blocked Brown's header on the line from the resulting corner.
Al-Habsi distinguished himself once again with 23 minutes gone to palm away Larsson's free-kick and then recover to claim Phil Bardsley's follow-up.
He then rescued his defence 12 minutes before the break when John O'Shea was allowed to get his head to another Larsson free-kick.
Wigan belatedly worked their way into the game, although Conor Sammon and Ronnie Stam were unable to take advantage of half-chances.
However, they were back on level terms by the time the whistle sounded, although the equaliser arrived in controversial circumstances.
Not for the first time, Moses forced his way into the penalty area from the left-hand side and went down under Larsson's challenge.
The Swede protested his innocence, but to little effect as referee Friend immediately pointed to the spot, with television replays inconclusive.
Gomez, however, took full advantage, sending Westwood the wrong way to hand his side a share of the spoils they scarcely deserved.
Stephane Sessegnon returned in determined mood and carved his way through the Wigan defence within seconds, although he could not pick out any of the three team-mates who had kept pace with him.
Bendtner screwed a 48th-minute shot wide in a lively start to the half which kept referee Friend fully occupied.
He turned down penalty appeals from both sides in quick succession as first Jack Colback blasted a shot into a Wigan defender's arm from point-blank range and Sammon went to ground after going shoulder-to-shoulder with Brown.
Gary Caldwell headed a 68th-minute Larsson free-kick just over his own crossbar, but the visitors were more than making a game of it as time ran down.But the winner eventually arrived at the other end when, after McArthur had embarrassed Brown, he squared for Di Santo to apply the decisive touch.
|Sunderland||Team Statistics||Wigan Athletic|
|1||1st Half Goals||1|
|9||Shots on Target||4|
|6||Shots off Target||4|
Barclays Premier League
|13||West Bromwich Albion||14||15|
|17||West Ham United||14||13|