Lee Johnson reacts to Sunderland's opening-day victory over Wigan Athletic

Lee Johnson acknowledged his Sunderland side had to dig deep to see off 'a good side' in Wigan Athletic - who played their part in 'a difficult game.

Saturday, 7th August 2021, 7:33 pm
Updated Saturday, 7th August 2021, 7:46 pm
Jack Whatmough wins the ball at Sunderland

Latics went in front inside 16 minutes at the Stadium of Light through Gwion Edwards, after Will Keane's shot had come back off a post.

But the Black Cats equalised within two minutes through Aiden McGeady's penalty, after Tendayi Darikwa had brought down Ross Stewart.

And Stewart himself scored what proved to be the winner eight minutes after the restart, with Lynden Gooch also hitting the stanchion in the final quarter.

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“It was a difficult game, the most difficult game we could have imagined - especially for an opening day," Johnson recognised. "They’re a good side.

"Both days really went for it, I thought it was end to end.

"The first game of the season - especially in the last 15, 20 minutes - people are always going to get a little bit tired.

"There's a lot of emotion as well and you can see the fatigue in the legs. But we saw it out well.

"We played some wonderful football at times, the way we played through the lines and switched the play, and they're a good side so I have to give my players a lot of credit."

It was a good game befitting of a crowd of more than 31,000 - wth 2,000 making the trip over from Wigan.

"I think the fans really aided us today," Johnson admitted. "They appreciated the good stuff, cheered when we broke the lines and got on the turn, and at the same time really willed us on when we needed it, especially at the end.

"I loved the day, you try to stay calm but of course your insides are like a box of frogs in the last five minutes, because you just want that win so much.

"I knew we were a good side, I knew that we had worked well in pre-season.

"I know externally there's been a lot said and what we wanted today was to show that unity as a football club, and we did that.

"The lads were so buoyed by the fans today and they've all been talking about that in the dressing room.

"The fans played such a big part for us today."

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