Roy Keane claimed revenge over old Manchester United team-mate Paul Ince as Sunderland came from behind to beat Blackburn 2-1 at Ewood Park.
Second-half strikes from Kenwyne Jones and Djibril Cisse enabled Keane’s men to overturn Christopher Samba’s first-half header and avenge their League Cup defeat by Blackburn in midweek.
The victory also ended a run of three consecutive defeats in the league for Sunderland and lifted them out of the relegation zone.
Ince had made six changes from the side that won the League Cup tie, with Roque Santa Cruz the most notable figure returning to the starting line-up following his recovery from a hamstring injury.
Keith Andrews was also back in the fold and it was the midfielder’s header that set up Stephen Warnock for the first chance of the match, which the former Liverpool defender knocked wide when it appeared easier to score.
That set the tone with Zurab Khizanishvili seeing an effort from a corner from Pedersen scrambled away before Santa Cruz headed against the bar following another corner from the Norwegian winger.
Sunderland keeper Marton Fulop did well to palm away a superb 25-yard free-kick from Pedersen and 25 minutes had elapsed before the visitors offered any kind of threat.
Steed Malbranque sent Cisse clear but the French striker’s chip cleared the bar as well as goalkeeper Paul Robinson.
With the interval approaching, Khizanishvili’s free-kick found Samba but the centreback’s header lacked power and Fulop was able to gather it comfortably enough.
That chance did however demonstrate that Sunderland were vulnerable at set-pieces and that was to result in them falling behind when Samba connected with a Pedersen corner in first-half stoppage time.
Keane’s half-time pep talk appeared to invigorate Sunderland and Jones saw a header from Malbranque’s chip come back off the bar, Robinson beating Kieron Richardson to the rebound.
Two minutes later, Jones equalised with a deft overhead finish after a corner by Richardson.
The impressive Malbranque was at the origin of Sunderland’s 71st-minute winner, his cushioned header sending Cisse into a one-on-one with Robinson.
The striker’s pace resolved the contest in his favour and a deft chip carried the ball over the goalkeeper and into the net.
Aaron Mokoena had the chance to equalise for Blackburn three minutes from time but his well-struck drive was blocked to leave Blackburn perilously close to the drop zone.
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