Sunderland achieved a huge win this afternoon on Wearside in defeating Walter Mazzarri's Watford, and were fully deserving in doing so having dominated much of the second half.
It wasn't plain sailing for the mackems, though, and it was in fact Watford who had the better of the first forty-five minutes, but Sunderland defended resolutely and the performances of both Papy Djilobodji and Donald Love were particular highlights.
Both teams looked to take an early advantage, with the game fairly end-to-end - though, oddly, neither side were able to break the deadlock in the opening forty-five minutes despite there being plenty of clear-cut chances.
In the opening minutes of the game Nordin Amrabat's sweetly-struck volley from a Watford corner was excellently tipped over the bar by England international Jordan Pickford in the Sunderland goal.
Some poor defending from Sunderland led to Troy Deeney breaking away through on goal in the 12th minute but rather than shoot he tried to cut the ball back, which was well intercepted by Papy Djilobodji to atone for his error moments earlier.
Minutes later Watford almost took the lead again - an error by Didier Ndong led to Watford breaking away down the left hand side and the cross which was driven into the box was nudged wide by Donald Love, just getting in front of Odion Ighalo, who almost certainly would have scored.
The early stages of the first half were dominated by Watford, though Sunderland did look somewhat threatening down the left hand side when playing in Patrick Van Aanholt.
After Jason Denayer gave away a poor free kick in the 25th minute, Watford missed yet another guilt-edged chance - Miguel Britos' header at the back post was nodded wide with the goal gaping in front of him.
Another cheap free kick conceded just before the thirty-minute mark led to another Watford chance as Sebastian Prodl - who left the field soon after through injury - nodded straight at Jordan Pickford - Pickford's long ball forward from that collection was excellently received by Victor Anichebe. Batting away Nordin Amorabat, the big Nigerian managed to fashion a chance from the move, but his shot was blocked easily and the ball deflected back off him to go out for a goal kick.
Adnan Januzaj struggled through the first half and his ineffectiveness was compounded after he received a silly yellow card in the 36th minute following a foul on Valon Behrami.
Just before half time Sunderland had their best chance of the game as Patrick van Aanholt found his way inside the six yard box from an offside position, shooting straight at Heurelho Gomes having been played in by Victor Anichebe.
The match officials endured a torrid time in the opening forty-five minutes and got almost every clear decision that they made wrong, with both teams feeling the effects of their ineptitude.
Sunderland opened the scoring with a fantastic goal in the 49th minute - after a good turn and pass from Adnan Januzaj played in Jermain Defoe down the Sunderland right hand side, the former Spurs man played in Patrick Van Aaholt and with his back to goal he turned and swivelled and fired a shot past Gomes and into the Watford net.
Adnan Januzaj was a completely different player in the second period and enjoyed a fantastic second half - something that Sunderland fans and the manager alike will hope he can build upon after he sits out of the next game on Boxing Day against his parent club Manchester United.
Sunderland remained in control for much of the time after the goal and in the 62nd minute probably should have doubled their lead - after good play from Adnan Januzaj put Donald Love into a crossing position, the ball across the Watford box fell to Victor Anichebe, who struck the ball well but couldn't manage to hit the target as his shot curled wide of the post.
Watford had a decent chance in the 72nd minute when Troy Deeney's diving header went wide of Jordan Pickford's goal after a good ball in to the box by Amrabat.
With the time running out Sunderland needed a couple of good saves from Jordan Pickford to keep their lead, first denying Daryl Janmaat and then Troy Deeney - the Sunderland supporters showed their love for the Washington-born stopper by singing his name in the minutes afterwards.
Bobby Madley's awful refereeing performance continued up until the 90th minute as he gave a free kick for a handball on the edge of the Sunderland area, despite Papy Djilibodji not actually handling the ball. Luckily for the home side Jose Holebas fired the resulting set piece high and wide into the North Stand.
Sunderland saw out the victory in an efficient fashion and go into Christmas week with a vital win under their belts, moving off the bottom of the table and into 18th in the process.