Steven Fletcher's strike proved the difference as Sunderland took all three points from their long trip to fellow strugglers Southampton which they won 1-0.
The Scotland international's effort three minutes from the end of the first half was enough for victory in an even encounter at St Mary's.
Only a point separated 16th-place Sunderland and the hosts coming into the match, with Southampton also a place worse off than the north-east side.
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