Sunderland picked up their first win of the Barclays Premier League season on Saturday with a 3-1 victory over Stoke City.
Steven Fletcher, who had not found the net since December's 2-2 draw with Cardiff City, had a hand in all three Sunderland goals as they picked up maximum points at the seventh attempt this term.
Connor Wickham got Sunderland off to an ideal start by heading home his maiden Barclays Premier League goal of the season just five minutes in from Fletcher's delivery.
But the home side was left to rue some sloppy defending as Charlie Adam levelled 10 minutes later.
Having laid on the opener, it was then Fletcher's turn to get on the scoresheet as he restored Gus Poyet side’s lead midway through the opening period with a well-placed header, following a quick corner.
Fletcher, brought into Poyet's starting side along with Jordi Gomez, eventually wrapped up the points with a close-range finish late on, the goal owing much to a superb run from Wickham.
Mark Hughes was forced into making one change, with Marko Arnautovic coming in for the injured Mame Biram Diouf, but it was the Black Cats who made a positive start, which paid dividends when Wickham stole in ahead of Phil Bardsley to convert Fletcher's cross from the right.
Steven N'Zonzi spurned an opportunity to draw the away side level soon after, his tame effort from the edge of the area barely troubling Vito Mannone, yet Adam made no mistake when equalising against the run of play.
Taking advantage of a static Sunderland defence, Adam fired past Mannone and into the bottom-right corner after receiving a pass from Victor Moses.
The Potters’ joy was somewhat curtailed when Moses was forced off, seemingly due to a problem with his thigh.
Having regained a foothold in the game, Stoke then fell behind as Fletcher out-jumped Marc Wilson and found the far corner to end his long wait for a goal.
Chances continued to come the way of both teams in an entertaining affair and Ryan Shawcross almost scored on his 27th birthday with a header that crept just over the crossbar prior to the half-hour mark.
Will Buckley's looping cross from the right nearly caught out Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and Peter Crouch's acrobatic effort tested Mannone prior to the interval.
The second half began in frantic fashion, although clear-cut chances were at a premium initially as Poyet's defence stood firm amid plenty of Stoke possession.
Other than Sebastian Larsson's fierce delivery, which evaded Fletcher and Wickham, both sides struggled to forge opportunities in a scrappy period that saw a flurry of bookings.
Fletcher then put paid to any hopes of a Potters comeback when he added his second 11 minutes from time following strong running from Wickham, ensuring Stoke tasted defeat on the road for the first time since April.
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet: "I love winning, I hate losing. It was incredible. It wasn't our best game but we were outstanding in front of goal. They are happy boys now. The start looks different, it looks more than decent. They want to be on the front page of the newspaper tomorrow.
"When I'm wrong I take responsibility. It's nice when it works. Something was missing - we were good but couldn't score. We started Fletch and it worked. I am sure we will play better but it's a good day.
"Before today it was no wins. Now we have only lost one in seven. I don't remember the last time I was that calm at the end of a game."
Stoke manager Mark Hughes: "We didn't deserve anything out of the game. We got off to a bad start and in away games in the Premier League you have to give yourselves a platform. We got back in it but the next opportunity they created they get another goal.
"It wasn't the best game in the world. On the day it was poor fayre from arguably both teams but we were poorer than Sunderland. Every time we allowed them an opportunity they took it so congratulations to them but we weren't at the level we needed to be at.
"We were probing, had a vast amount of possession but didn't have that cutting edge. We've played a lot better than that. They've picked up three points and in all honesty we haven't made it that difficult."
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|29 Nov 2014||v Chelsea (H)|
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|13 Dec 2014||v West Ham (H)|
|06 Dec 2014||v Liverpool (A)|
|09 Nov 2014||v Everton (H)|