Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill hailed Steven Fletcher after the striker led his side to a 3-2 win over Wigan at DW Stadium on Saturday.
Fletcher scored a brace and looked dangerous from beginning to end to ensure his side’s recent good form continues, with the Black Cats now winning five of their past eight games.
O’Neill wasn’t afraid to heap praise on his striker, acknowledging that the 25-year-old was the difference between the two sides.
“Fletcher was fantastic,” O’Neill said after the game.
“It was not just his goals but also his whole centre forward play. We took great heart from his performance.”
The Black Cats were forced to weather a Wigan storm in the final stages after Angelo Henriquez pulled a goal back with 11 minutes to go and O’Neill was thrilled with his side’s ability to hold out away from home.
“We’ve had to show a lot of fight and determination,” said O’Neill.
“Wigan threw a lot at us and were never out of it.
“It was all hands to the pump at the end and I am delighted with the result.”
The loss sees Wigan once again slip into the bottom three after only last week clawing their way out of the relegation zone and manager Roberto Martinez insists his side are not resting on their laurels after eight straight years in the top flight.
“We never take anything for granted,” Martinez said.
“If we had done that we would never have had eight seasons at this level.
“Today we weren’t good enough defensively for 30 minutes. We need to rectify that,” he said.