Bruce hails matchwinner Bent

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Darren Bent earned lavish praise from manager Steve Bruce after his first-half header gave Sunderland a 1-0 victory at Barclays Premier League rivals Bolton.

The £10million signing from Tottenham superbly dispatched Steed Malbranque's cross in the fifth minute to give Bruce a winning start to his reign.

"It's great when your centre-forward gets off the mark after five minutes," said Bruce.

"It was a great header and all that hard work that the chairman (Niall Quinn) has put in, with hours of negotiations by everybody concerned, has paid off.

"It was well worth it, not just for his goal but his appetite and his work-rate. That's what got the deal over the line in the end - the boy's desire to come and play for us."

Bruce, who reported injuries to Steed Malbranque (ankle) and Richardson (dead leg), added: "It's a good start but that's all it is. The big thing for me was the supporters in times of recession. We brought 5,500 and that was wonderful to see."

Sunderland were indebted to a superb reflex save by Marton Fulop in the closing stages to deny Cary Cahill but Trotters boss Gary Megson was left to rue his side's awful start to the game.

Megson said: "In the second half we were on the front foot and much more committed. If we'd done that in the first half we would probably have got a better result, I would think.

"We were sluggish and the biggest disappointment was that we spoke on Thursday about set-pieces and how important they are at every level in football.

"We scored 14 goals from set-pieces last year, which was nearly a third of the amount of goals we scored, and we defended 74 wide free-kicks and didn't concede a goal. We've done that within five minutes. It was a great header and leap from Bent, but our defending was nowhere near what I'd expect in such a critical area."

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Tottenham Hotspur
Marton Fulop
Bolton Wanderers
Premier League
Steve Bruce
Steed Malbranque
Darren Bent

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