What happened as Sunderland stage stunning comeback against Wigan Athletic

Sunderland staged a stunning second-half comeback to return to winning ways in the Championship on Saturday afternoon.

Wigan Athletic had taken a first-half lead through Charlie Wyke in a moved that featured three of the Lactics’ former Black Cats, but Elliot Embleton and Dennis Cirkin turned the contest on its head.

It was an inspired half-time switch from Tony Mowbray that helped his team get back on the scoresheet, with an attacking 4-4-2 sparking a crucial win.

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Mowbray continued his search for options up front with Ellis Simms and Ross Stewart both sidelined, this time turning to Jack Clarke and Patrick Roberts in a 3-5-2, Dennis Cirkin replacing the suspended Corry Evans in the only change to the starting XI.

Elliot Embleton levels the scores at the Stadium of Light

The Black Cats started brightly and moved the ball with confidence, though Embleton and Roberts were unable to make much of two relatively promising shooting positions near the edge of the box.

The contest quickly settled into a familiarly frustrating pattern, however, as Wigan sat off in a resolute defensive shape. A stop-start contest gave the Black Cats little chance to build any rhythm, and they were again lacking presence in the opposition penalty box.

They began to find space around the half hour mark, Alex Pritchard springing Roberts clear in the box with a delightful through ball. Roberts fired confidently past Ben Amos, but the flag was already raised for offside. Moments later Pritchard did it again after a superb run infield from Roberts, but on his weaker left foot Clarke could only slice an effort wide of the far post.

Wigan had offered little other than at set plays, but the home support know only too well that Nathan Broadhead needs only a moment to impact a game. Just inside the opposition half he spun away from Luke O’Nien, opening up the pitch and springing a counter. He passed out to James McClean on the left flank, and his volley was converted well by Wyke at the back post.

Mowbray reacted immediately at the break, bringing on Amad and switching to a 4-4-2. Though it left space on the break for Wigan, the hosts instantly had more space on the break and were level inside ten minutes. Pritchard teed up Dennis Cirkin and his low cross into the box was converted by Elliot Embleton from a couple of yards out.

Wigan were struggling to pick Amad up and though there was space for both teams the mood inside the Stadium of Light has been completely transformed.

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The Black Cats were building pressure, getting into good areas but just not quite able to find the end product. On four occasions the hosts managed to get dangerous balls into the six-yard box, but on four occasions there was no one there to convert. Eventually, though, that pressure told. It was superb play again from Pritchard and Roberts, spotting the opportunity to take a quick free kick. Wigan were too slow to respond and when the cross was floated into the back post, Cirkin was there to tower over his marker and head home.

Sunderland continued to look a threat throughout the closing stages, though they had to survive a major score when Keane nodded a corner from James McClean wide of the near post.

The Black Cats survived a late barrage of their box to come out on top.

Sunderland XI: Patterson; O’Nien, Batth, Alese; Gooch (Amad, 45), Neil, Embleton (Wright, 90), Cirkin, Pritchard; Roberts, Clarke

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Subs: Bass, Dajaku, Bennette, Michut, Matete

Wigan Athletic XI: Amos; Kerr, Tilt (Aasgard, 76), Whatmough; Darikwa, Power, Naylor (Shinnie, 81), McLean, Keane; Wyke (Magennis, 67), Broadhead (Fletcher, 81)

Subs: Jones, Couins, Shinnie, Bennett, Fletcher

Bookings: Embleton, 24 Tilt, 28 Pritchard, 82 Patterson, 85 Keane, 90

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Attendance: 37,016