Steven Fletcher continued to be Sunderland’s only goal scorer this season in the Barclays Premier League when he netted the only goal 50 minutes into the game, just three minutes after Jordi Gomez was dismissed for a lunge on Danny Rose. It was a hot-headed affair that produced six yellow cards as well as the Gomez red and it could arguably have been more.
The game started extremely positively with Latics usual wide play causing the home side all sorts of problems. After just four minutes James McCarthy started off the battering of Sunderland’s goal when he worked his way into the box from a central position but saw his low shot cleared for a corner by the outstretched foot of Simon Mignolet.
The Belgian goalkeeper kept Sunderland in the game once again just 11 minutes later when Jean Beausejour’s cross from the left invited Arouna Kone to finish at the back post but, Mignolet dove across to block in time.
Sunderland’s main threat in the first half came from a Sebastian Larsson free kick when he curled in an inviting ball from the left that evaded everyone until Ivan Ramis blocked it off the line. Latics had another late chance before half time when McCarthy was once again given space in the middle but; his fizzing shot went just wide of the goal.
At half time the mood in the camp would have been satisfied but two minutes after the break things turned. It was a decision Howard Webb had to make that changed the complexion of the game when Gomez came in off the ground one-footed to bring down Danny Rose. The high intensity of the challenge made it look worse and the Spanish midfielder was sent off.
From then on Latics simply lacked in numbers as expected and three minutes later Sunderland made them pay on the break. The dangerous Irishman James McLean flew forward with defenders left in his tracks before cutting the ball back to top goal scorer Steven Fletcher who tapped in his fifth goal in six shots this season.
Despite the advantage in numbers, Sunderland didn’t offer much in terms of a real threat for a second goal and the frustration was clear for Latics as their forward movement lacked that extra man. Roberto Martinez made two changes late on with Callum McManaman and Ryo Miyaichi thrown in to give Latics some bite but, it was too late and the Black Cats held on for their first league win of the season.