Victor Anichebe dedicated Sunderland’s first Premier League win of the season to boss David Moyes after the Black Cats came from behind to beat Bournemouth 2-1.
Despite falling behind early on and later having Steven Pienaar sent off, the visitors fought back to snap their 10-game winless run in the league.
Anichebe levelled and then won the penalty from which Jermain Defoe netted the winner as Moyes, serving a touchline ban following a misconduct charge, watched on from the stands.
“We did this for the manager. Over the last few weeks we have not done him justice,” Anichebe, who ended a 546-day top-flight goal drought, told Sky Sports.
“It has been a huge transition from last year to this one. For all the work the manager has done, this one was for him. He is the one who has been getting the blame, even though we are the ones on the pitch.
“You could see by the reaction at the final whistle. We have wanted this result for so long. It was a must-win game, even when we were down to 10 men, we didn’t sulk, we ground it out.”
Anichebe’s goal showcased his strength as the former West Brom forward muscled his way into space before powering an effort past Artur Boruc.
But the 28-year-old revealed he had been carrying an injury.
He explained: “The first half I cracked my rib, I couldn’t move properly.”
Defoe, who netted his sixth goal of the season, paid credit to the manager and Sunderland’s support, who faced a 700-mile round trip to the south coast.
“It is a massive win. Week by week I feel like we have improved, it is just a case of luck,” he said.
“The energy levels were brilliant, we showed great team spirit and character when it was hard. Credit to the boys.
“Managers get sacrificed at the end of the day, they put they work in but they can only do so much. It is down to the players.
“David Moyes wasn’t on the bench, but I can imagine he is delighted.
“This win is for the manager and fans, who are unbelievable.”