David Nugent was already earning clamour for a second England call up yesterday after the former Preston forward came off the bench to score his first goals for Burnley to seal a third straight home win in the Premier League.
Having conceded penalties that the opposition failed to take advantage of in the 1-0 victories over Manchester United and Everton, the hosts may have been entitled to expect that converting one of their own might propel them to a similar result.
The spot-kick fortune continued with Wade Elliott chasing on to Graham Alexander’s pass only to be chopped down by a mindless challenge from Anton Ferdinand and not even facing his Scotland colleague Craig Gordon could distract the ever-reliable Alexander, who thumped the penalty into the net.
The hosts had already had one scare when Andre Bikey failed to deal with Michael Turner’s headed clearance and Darren Bent shot straight at Brian Jensen, but the summer signing from Tottenham was never going to pass up the opportunity that came his way five minutes before the interval.
Andy Reid was allowed to carry the ball from the Burnley corner flag into the centre and, with Clarke Carlisle playing Bent onside, clipped through for the forward to slide past Jensen for his fifth of the season.
Sunderland were beginning to impose themselves and it looked ominous when Steve Bruce brought on Kenwyne Jones to go with a three-man front-line but it was a Burnley substitute that was next to make his mark.
Nugent, who joined on loan until the new year on deadline day, complained bitterly about his lack of opportunities at Portsmouth but during his spell he can rarely have been given a better chance than the one he converted midway through the second period, heading Elliott’s floated cross from the right past the helpless Gordon.
His one game for England – he scored in the 3-0 win over Andorra in 2007 – may seem like a distant memory but Nugent produced another moment of brilliance with a curling finish to seal the points.