Michael Beale claimed a first victory since taking charge of Sunderland with a 1-0 triumph at Hull in the Championship.
Jack Clarke scored the winning goal after 82 minutes when he cut inside from the left before smartly directing the football into the bottom right-hand corner.
Beale, who replaced Tony Mowbray earlier in the month, suffered a miserable start in his new role when Coventry won 3-0 at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
But the former Rangers manager will be delighted by the resolute manner in which his players went about their business in East Yorkshire – and even happier with the full-time scoreline which moved the Black Cats above Hull into the top six.
Jude Bellingham, sporting a Sunderland scarf in support of his brother Jobe, was watching from the stands but may have been questioning his decision to ditch Madrid for Hull after an awful first half.
The hosts were given no time on the football – especially through the middle – while Sunderland were more direct, but they, too, could not gain an efficient grip on the match and were largely kept at arm’s length from Matt Ingram’s goal.
The game finally awoke from its post-Christmas slumber after 24 minutes, when Tyler Morton weaved a direct route towards goal from the left.
Morton’s cross was dangerous, but goalkeeper Anthony Patterson did well to parry the ball to safety.
By contrast to the opening 45 minutes, the second half began earnestly when Morton sent across a dangerous ball from the right and Scott Twine teed up Aaron Connolly, but his feeble hit in front of goal was easily saved.
Sunderland responded with Patrick Roberts breezing clear of Regan Slater on the right before stabbing the ball into a dangerous area. Centre-back Alfie Jones looked in trouble facing his own goal so therefore did well to divert the ball for a corner.
The longer the game progressed, the more composed Sunderland became.
This was evidenced after 62 minutes when Slater lost possession in Hull’s penalty box. Adil Aouchiche seized control but thrashed the ball just over the crossbar.
Beale’s men then created a fine chance after 67 minutes when Clarke threaded a lovely ball towards an onrushing Roberts. He had it all to do from a tricky angle but should still have made Ingram work harder in a one-on-one situation on the right of the six-yard box.
With Sunderland having committed men forward, Hull nearly scored in transition when Liam Delap bullied his way into the visitors’ box. The Manchester City loan signing let rip from the right but Patterson reacted smartly to tip the ball around the left-hand post.
Patterson also thwarted Morton from a similar angle, but they lacked offensive clout once Clarke scored and could find no way through their hard-working opponents.