Blacks Cats' resilience delights Bruce
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce was a happy man after seeing his side battle their way to a much-needed 1-0 victory over Aston Villa on Saturday. The eighth own goal of Villa defender Richard Dunne's career handed the Black Cats just their second Premier League win of the season, extended their unbeaten run to seven league games and took them into seventh place in the table. Bruce said: "Seven games unbeaten in the Premier League takes some doing, no matter who you play against, so there is a bit of resilience. "We invested heavily in the back four and the goalkeeper and when I look behind me and I have got four people who played in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, and I have got Britain's most expensive goalkeeper sitting behind me too. "We have got a really good look about us, so I am pleased. "There's a resilience about us, which was the first thing I wanted to try to address when we came here." It was also Sunderland's first league victory in which Darren Bent had not scored in 14 months, and it came courtesy of Dunne's unwitting intervention. He turned Steed Malbranque's 25th-minute cross past goalkeeper Brad Friedel, who pulled off a fine save from Danny Welbeck two minutes later to keep Villa in the game. They had made much of the early running with Stewart Downing shooting against the foot of the post with just three minutes gone and Stephen Ireland being denied a close-range finish by Nedum Onuoha's 16th-minute challenge. The visitors were in some disarray in the immediate aftermath of the goal, but should really have got something out of the game after creating more than enough chances after the break to claim an equaliser. The best of them fell to former England striker Emile Heskey, who completely missed his kick in front of goal after Downing's 61st-minute cross had evaded Simon Mignolet, although both Bent and substitute Asamoah Gyan failed to make the most of late break-aways. Villa boss Gerard Houllier was disappointed to be leaving Wearside empty-handed, and his misery was compounded by the knee injury which forced captain Stiliyan Petrov off before the break with suspected knee ligament damage. Houllier said: "I am very disappointed with the result. We should, as a reward at least, have got one goal and probably got a draw. "I thought we started well. Our morale probably went down when we conceded that own goal because we had a bit of a slump, but the second half was night and day with the first half. "We were quicker, better, sharper and created chance after chance, but unfortunately we didn't manage to put the ball in the back of the net. "This is my only regret because I was pleased with the effort of the players and their reaction. "Don't forget, we also lost our captain very quickly and there were a few things that happened that probably affected the team mentally. "But after that, the reaction was good and the football was better in the second half. "Obviously, we exposed ourselves a couple of times with breaks, but that's normal. I like a team that tries right to the end." Asked about Dunne's latest own goal, the Frenchman said: "I told him, 'Don't worry, that happens, you will probably win games for us'. "It was a bit sad, but that happens in football." Bruce will now turn his attention to next Sunday's mouth-watering derby clash with Newcastle. He said: "I am looking forward to it immensely. I have never been to one, I have never been involved in one, so I am looking forward to it. "I am looking forward to the build up to it and the occasion as well because I can imagine it's terrific. I can't wait."
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