What The Gaffer Said
Like the rest of us, you get the impression that Martin O'Neill was just happy to finally have a win to talk about. He told safc.com:
I would have taken the win in any shape or form, but it was a good win today and we scored some good goals.
The sending off definitely changed the dynamic of the game.
It was up to us then to force the issue, to see the game through to halftime and then try and stretch Fulham as much as we could in the second half, which I thought we did well.
The first goal came from a great ball from Adam Johnson and then a truly magnificent finish from a magnificent player in Steven Fletcher.
The second goal from Carlos Cuellar was an important one for us. Fullham had pegged us back and it was so important for us to get that second.
Eventually it was a blinding goal by [Stephane] Sessegnon to seal it.
A great goal from a fine player to crown the victory - as well two outstanding saves Simon Mignolet to keep Fulham at bay.
The players are looking forward to the next couple of games at home. It's always a good atmosphere at the Stadium of Light.
Winning today is a boost of confidence ahead of a very important game next week.
He is possibly laying it on a little thick here but given the frustrations of recent weeks it would be churlish to be a pedant.
Lets just say that we hope it is the first of many times O'Neill gets to wax lyrical about the performances of Steven Fletcher, Adam Johnson, and Stephane Sessegnon, because when they are on song there won't be many bad days. (MG)
Cattermole Finally Getting It?
Some debate has surrounded whether or not Hangeland's red card was justified, and the usual 'what if it had been Cattermole?' question is being rolled out as per usual.
The point here is that it so easily could have been Cattermole. The ball was there to be won and a 50/50 beckoned - but the Sunderland captain stayed on his feet.
Could it be that he is finally starting to get it? That he is finally starting to learn that he is a better player on his feet and on the pitch than he is lunging in and sitting in the stand?
It is impossible to tell for now, but it must be considered a hugely encouraging sign. (MG)
Sublime Or Ridiculous?
I can't personally remember seeing a more enigmatic player for Sunderland than Stephane Sessegnon. Don't get me wrong - I love the little bloke to bits, but every time he is on the ball you genuinely have no idea whether what you are about to see is going to be brilliant or baffling.
At Craven Cottage, we saw both. He gave away the ball for the break that created Fulham's equalizer from, oddly enough, roughly the same position from which he raked in the brilliant third.
I think that Sessegnon is always going to have that frustrating element to his game. If he eradicated it and became a better decision-maker in the final third, then quite frankly he wouldn't be playing for us, anyway.
But the trick with Sess is getting him anywhere on the 'sublime' side of the line between that and ridiculous, and the percentages will do the rest. He hasn't really been there yet this season, but he is certainly getting there. (MG)
A Goal Worth £22m Of Anyone's Money
Stephane Sessegnon's brilliant individual strike was the one that caught the eye, although I must admit that it was the opener that I enjoyed most.
It was the first time the big money summer duo of Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson had combined to produce and it was well worth the wait - and the money.
Johnson's pass as well as Fletcher's movement, first touch, and finish were all absolutely pitch perfect and you will simply never see a goal crafted with more precision. (MG)
Play To The Whistle!
For all the good attacking on show, I just can't let the defending for the Fulham goal pass without comment. Let's face it: if I described it as 'atrocious' I would be being kind.
O'Shea stopped completely and Cuellar played everyone onside. The centre backs basically hung each other out to dry.
Thankfully, it didn't matter, and it should be noted that they redeemed themselves immediately when Cuellar took advantage of O'Shea's penalty box run to head home the second goal. But come on lads, you are much better than that. (MG)
Mignolet A Keeper
Since we have all this newfangled 'attacking' stuff to discuss, it would be easy to forget about the huge influence Simon Mignolet had on this game.
The Belgian has been in top form all season. In fact, he was pretty brilliant last season too, but he is actually being noticed now.
Given his age, the fact he is at a relatively modest club, and his almost in-vogue nationality, you would have to expect Sunderland's resolve to keep Mignolet on Wearside to be tested sooner or later.
His current deal does not expire until 2015, so there is no immediate hurry to tie him down to a new one. It shouldn't be left too long, however, if the club is serious about at least trying to keep him around. (MG)
Johnson Dripping With Quality
For me, the 'Man of the Match' honours was probably a straight battle between Simon Mignolet and Lee Cattermole, though Adam Johnson's performance is worthy of special mention.
We saw against Newcastle how tough it can sometimes be to break down 10-men, but it was Johnson who was the key to the second half success.
He administered a masterclass in exploiting the space that Fulham's numerical disadvantage created, hugging the left side of the pitch and providing a constant outlet once the ball had been won.
It was the kind of quality and natural appreciation of the game that just can't be coached into players. You either have it or you don't, and he has it in abundance. (MG)