Bent to the rescue for Bruce
Steve Bruce was a relieved man after seeing Darren Bent fire Sunderland to a first Barclays Premier League win of 2010.
Bent's second-half hat-trick, which came after Fraizer Campbell's first-minute strike, ended the Black Cats' wait for a first three-point haul since November 21, a run of 14 games. It could hardly have come at a better time with owner Ellis Short in the stands at the Stadium of Light ahead of Friday's planned meeting with his manager.
Bruce said: "It's just relief that we have got a victory. I am pleased for everybody concerned with the club and delighted that we have got one.
He added: "But that's all it is, it's just a victory at the moment. But it was the manner of it that was very enjoyable. Towards the end, we could have scored six or eight - Benty could have scored five himself."
The win lifted the Black Cats six points clear of the bottom three and into the relative comfort of 13th place as they leapfrogged Wanderers, who are now 14th.
They got their noses in front with just 44 seconds gone when Campbell collected his first league goal for the club, but it was Bent who made the major contribution on a night when the home side appeared rejuvenated.
He confidently beat Jussi Jaaskelainen after running on to Lee Cattermole's 64th-minute pass, and then converted a penalty 10 minutes later after Sam Ricketts had bundled him over to earn his second yellow card of the game. The £10 million man completed a hat-trick with two minutes remaining to send a crowd of 36,087 into raptures.
Bolton boss Owen Coyle was furious that Black Cats skipper Lorik Cana was not punished for a rugged challenge on substitute Vladimir Weiss, and insisted the contact between SamRicketts and Bent had taken place outside the penalty area.
He said: "I am not trying to make excuses here. Sunderland won the game fair enough, but the margin of the scoreline and some of the things that went against us.
"But we will pick ourselves up. The players have been terrific in their effort and their application. We have shown the quality to know we can win games, and we have to do that to take us out of the dangerous position we are in."
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