Under-pressure Sunderland boss David Moyes was rewarded for his bravery after seeing Patrick van Aanholt rescue just a second Premier League point of the season from the jaws of defeat.
The 26-year-old Dutchman, who started the afternoon on the bench, scored an 83rd-minute equaliser to clinch a 1-1 draw with West Brom at the Stadium of Light.
It came at the end of an eventful few weeks which had seen him withdrawn from the team minutes before kick-off at Tottenham on the advice of a cardiologist and pictured apparently smoking a shisha pipe,
Van Aanholt had been introduced as a 56th-minute replacement for the injured Jan Kirchhoff and lined up in midfield rather than his more accustomed left-back role.
Moyes said: “We had been training Pat further forward this week in a couple of sessions to see how it looked. But the one thing with Pat is he gets some goals – he scored the goal against Middlesbrough.
“He’s got a couple of goals already, Pat, which if you said at the end of the season a left-back gets you two, three, four goals, you’d be saying that’s quite a good return.
“But what we need is everybody else to get the goals, then it looks like your left-back has done well.”
Jermain Defoe had earlier passed up two glorious opportunities with Moyes admitting it was a rarity to see him miss.
He said: “We are just so used to when Jermain gets it and pulls the trigger, so often it’s in the back of the net.”
Van Aanholt’s contribution, which cancelled out Nacer Chadli’s 35th-minute opener, spared his side a fourth home league defeat of the season and a return of just a single point from his first seven league games, a record which cost one of his predecessors, Paolo Di Canio, his job three years ago.
It also lifted the club from the foot of the table on goal difference with Stoke replacing them ahead of their trip to Manchester United on Sunday.
However, Moyes said: “Obviously, we see it as points dropped, not as a point gained, but with 10 minutes to go, I’d have taken a point because we hadn’t got one then.”