Sunderland continued their strong away form on Saturday, holding Wigan to a 1-1 draw in a scrappy match that saw Latics midfielder Lee Cattermole sent off.
Roy Keane's men, poor at home so far this season, nearly made it two away wins out of two after last month's defeat of Tottenham, but were thwarted by a late strike from Wigan's top goalscorer Amr Zaki. Sunderland shaded the earlier possession as former Spurs team-mates Pascal Chimbonda and Steed Malbranque pushed and probed to find weaknesses in Wigan's armour. They found the chink in the 12th minute, when a speculative Malbranque cross from the left was turned into Wigan's net by hapless defender Titus Bramble.
Former Chelsea stalwart Mario Melchiot and former Sunderland player Kevin Kilbane tried to get Wigan going again, engineering moves which failed to trouble 'keeper Craig Gordon. Steve Bruce's charges came out strong in the second half as they looked to recover the pizzazz that saw them hammer Hull 5-0 in their last Premier League outing. On the 47th minute Wigan wideman Kilbane fired an inswinger into the danger zone but Gordon scrambled to punch clear, and veteran Emile Heskey, making his 100th career Premier League appearance, laboured to find an opening.
Chances at both ends
Sunderland's Frenchman Djibril Cisse had a great chance to double the lead in the 60th minute when he got on the end of a Chimbonda throw-in, but his right-footed shot from 12 yards was dealt with by Chris Kirkland. At the other end, a 30-yard piledriver by Wigan's Olivier Kapo in the 68th minute was tipped over by Gordon, and from the resulting corner by Jason Koumas brought out a desperate clearance from Sunderland's El-Hadji Diouf.
Wigan got the breakthrough in the 77th minute when Zaki connected with a Maynor Figueroa cross to steer the ball into Gordon's bottom left-hand corner, for his fifth goal of the season. However, the home side were reduced to ten men with five minutes to go when Cattermole clattered into Teemu Tainio for his second bookable offence.
Heskey wasted a great chance of winning the match in the third minute of added time when he fired a 20-yard shot woefully over the crossbar.