Asamoah Gyan celebrates after marking his Sunderland debut with a goal
By Les Roopanarine
Wigan were indebted to Antolin Alcaraz after the Paraguay international headed home a dramatic late equaliser to deny 10-man Sunderland an unlikely victory.
The visitors were left reeling when former Wigan midfielder Lee Cattermole received his marching orders for a second bookable offence on 22 minutes.
But Sunderland's new signing Asamoah Gyan entered the fray at half-time and went on to claim a clinical debut goal.
Alcaraz turned in Tom Cleverly's volley at the death to give Wigan a point.
The defender's late intervention provided a typically perverse twist from Wigan, who - in a league that prides itself on its unpredictability - have become standard bearers in the art of the unexpected.
They battered Sunderland at times following Cattermole's dismissal, creating countless chances - not least when front man Mauro Boselli headed wide of an open goal - and yet not until they had fallen behind, and survived a credible penalty claim, did they manage to find the net.
Martinez proud of Wigan reaction
Even the equaliser was a study in the unlikely, Sunderland keeper Simon Mignolet punching clear, home debutant Cleverly drilling towards goal, and Alcaraz stooping to redirect it into the net.
It all promised to be so different for Wigan. Sunderland had taken only a solitary point from four previous Premier League assignments at the DW Stadium, so - on paper, at least - the visit of Steve Bruce's side augured well for the home side.
Yet precedent counts for little when it comes to a Wigan side capable of leaving White Hart Lane with three points after losing 4-0 at home to Blackpool and 6-0 at Chelsea.
Far from building on their performance against Tottenham, the Latics offered further evidence that they are the proverbial riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
Cattermole's second dismissal in four games - he also received a first-half red card in the opening-day draw with Birmingham - should have been a huge fillip for Roberto Martinez's men.
The former Wigan midfielder received a deserved 18th-minute booking for a foul on Mohamed Diame, and it left him playing on a knife edge, a situation in which the often impetuous 22-year-old is rarely at his best.
It took just four minutes for Cattermole's judgement to betray him once again. Ali Al Habsi, the Wigan goalkeeper preferred to Chris Kirkland after his heroics at White Hart Lane, plucked a Jordan Henderson free-kick out of the air and swiftly released Rodallega.
Fighting a losing battle to keep pace with the fleet-footed Colombian along the left flank, Cattermole made a lunging challenge which sent Rodallega tumbling and left referee Andre Marriner no choice but to brandish a second yellow card.
Cattermole has to learn caution - Bruce
The luxury of an extra man afforded Wigan the freedom to play the brand of neat, passing football favoured by Martinez, and as the opening half drew to a close Sunderland frequently found themselves chasing shadows.
Bruce responded by introducing record signing Gyan at the break, a move which Rodallega seemed almost to take as a personal affront.
Seemingly determined to upstage Sunderland's £13m record signing from Rennes, Rodallega went close twice in quick succession, forcing a sprawling save from visiting keeper Simon Mignolet before flicking a low shot narrowly wide.
Yet Sunderland, their defiance epitomised by the increasingly inspired performance of Mignolet, refused to yield.
When another Wigan chance went begging, Boselli's first touch betraying him after Diame had found him in space in the box, the alarm bells became deafening for the home side.
Sure enough, the outstanding Jordan Henderson wriggled past Diame on the right, swung a beautifully-flighted cross to the far post, and Gyan nipped in ahead of Steve Gohouri to stab home a left-footed volley on the edge of the six-yard box.
The chances kept coming for Wigan, Di Santo standing up a superb ball for Boselli at the far post only for the Argentinean to head wide with the goal at his mercy.
Martinez swiftly put Boselli out of his misery, withdrawing him in favour of Cleverly, the midfielder on loan from Manchester United.
It was to prove a crucial substitution, given Cleverly's role in Wigan's equaliser three minutes from time.
But while Wigan were ultimately good value for their point, Bruce could be forgiven for feeling that his side should have been safe long before Alcaraz stooped to conquer, replays suggesting that Emerson Boyce was lucky to escape censure when Cristian Riveros's diving header deflected off his raised hand.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez:
""In my eyes the early sending-off was the worst thing that could have happened.
"Sunderland didn't have to think after that, they organised themselves and played well on the counter.
"But for us, it was all about the reaction.
"Sunderland got bodies behind the ball extremely well, but we got better as a team and got another point."
Sunderland manager Steve Bruce:
"If someone had said when Lee Cattermole got sent off that we could take a point, we would have.
"I've got no complaints about the sending off. Lee's got a terrific attitude, but he has to learn that once you've got a yellow card, you can't afford to take a risk.
"The one piece of magic we produced in the game led to a goal, and it's a shame we couldn't hold on.
"Gyan [Asamoah] was only here with us on Friday, but we've made huge changes to the side and we need time now."
90:00+4:53 Simon Mignolet restarts play with the free kick.
90:00+4:53 Booking Mohamed Diame is shown a yellow card.
90:00+4:52 Anton Ferdinand fouled by Mohamed Diame, the ref awards a free kick.
90:00+2:16 Mohamed Diame takes a shot. Blocked by Nedum Onuoha.
90:00+0:40 Franco Di Santo has an effort at goal from outside the area missing to the wide right of the goal.
90:00 The referee brings the game to a close.
Correction - 86:16 Assist by Tom Cleverley.
86:16 The assist for the goal came from Tom Cleverley.
86:16 GOAL - Antolin Alcaraz:Wigan 1 - 1 Sunderland Antolin Alcaraz grabs a headed goal from inside the area. Wigan 1-1 Sunderland.
Correction - 86:12 Tom Cleverley takes a shot.
86:12 Tom Cleverley takes a shot. Save by Simon Mignolet.
85:31 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Franco Di Santo by John Mensah. Free kick taken by Hugo Rodallega.
84:42 Anton Ferdinand fouled by Tom Cleverley, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Simon Mignolet.
84:23 Charles N'Zogbia takes a shot. Simon Mignolet makes a save.
84:07 Hugo Rodallega sends in a cross, save by Simon Mignolet.
82:44 Foul by Charles N'Zogbia on Titus Bramble, free kick awarded. Simon Mignolet restarts play with the free kick.
81:30 Shot by Darren Bent from outside the box goes high over the crossbar.
80:44 The offside flag is raised against Franco Di Santo. Simon Mignolet takes the direct free kick.
77:40 Titus Bramble restarts play with the free kick.
77:40 Substitution John Mensah comes on in place of Kieran Richardson.
77:40 Franco Di Santo challenges Cristian Riveros unfairly and gives away a free kick.
75:59 Jordan Henderson fouled by Mohamed Diame, the ref awards a free kick. Anton Ferdinand takes the direct free kick.
75:24 Cristian Riveros fouled by Charles N'Zogbia, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Simon Mignolet.
73:40 Ali Al Habsi takes the free kick.
73:40 Substitution Mauro Boselli goes off and Tom Cleverley comes on.
73:40 Free kick awarded for a foul by Asamoah Gyan on Steve Gohouri.
71:48 Header from close range by Mauro Boselli misses to the right of the goal.
71:11 Asamoah Gyan produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the right of the target.
70:15 Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Charles N'Zogbia, save by Simon Mignolet.
67:59 Darren Bent fouled by Charles N'Zogbia, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Anton Ferdinand.
65:12 Jordan Henderson provided the assist for the goal.
65:12 GOAL - Asamoah Gyan:Wigan 0 - 1 Sunderland Asamoah Gyan finds the back of the net with a goal from inside the six-yard box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Wigan
62:05 Corner from the left by-line taken by Charles N'Zogbia, Mauro Boselli gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Simon
Mignolet. Simon Mignolet takes the free kick.
58:58 Kieran Richardson concedes a free kick for a foul on Charles N'Zogbia. Charles N'Zogbia takes the free kick.
58:10 Shot by Mauro Boselli from outside the box goes high over the target.
53:49 Free kick awarded for a foul by Maynor Figueroa on Steed Malbranque. Free kick taken by Jordan Henderson.
Correction - 52:27 Substitution Franco Di Santo joins the action as a substitute, replacing Hendry Thomas.
Correction - 52:27 Substitution Ronnie Stam leaves the field to be replaced by Charles N'Zogbia.
52:27 Substitution Hendry Thomas goes off and Franco Di Santo comes on.
52:27 Substitution Charles N'Zogbia on for Ronnie Stam.
Correction - 50:38 Unfair challenge on Cristian Riveros by Steve Gohouri results in a free kick. Steed Malbranque takes the direct free kick.
50:38 Steve Gohouri concedes a free kick for a foul on Cristian Riveros. Steed Malbranque restarts play with the free kick.
48:21 Hugo Rodallega has an effort at goal from the edge of the box that misses to the right of the target.
46:20 Shot by Hugo Rodallega from 25 yards. Save made by Simon Mignolet.
45:01 Substitution Asamoah Gyan is brought on as a substitute for Danny Welbeck.
45:01 The match restarts for the second half.
45:00+1:03 The referee blows for offside against Emmerson Boyce. Free kick taken by Simon Mignolet.
45:00 The whistle is blown to end the first half.
42:23 Foul by Hugo Rodallega on Steed Malbranque, free kick awarded. Simon Mignolet takes the direct free kick.
40:29 Direct free kick taken by Hendry Thomas.
40:29 Booking Booking for Danny Welbeck for unsporting behaviour.
40:24 Foul by Danny Welbeck on Ronnie Stam, free kick awarded.
39:30 The referee blows for offside. Simon Mignolet restarts play with the free kick.
39:04 Unfair challenge on Mohamed Diame by Steed Malbranque results in a free kick. Hendry Thomas restarts play with the free kick.
37:46 Corner taken right-footed by Ronnie Stam, comfortable save by Simon Mignolet.
36:36 Effort on goal by James McCarthy from just inside the box goes harmlessly over the target.
34:57 Hendry Thomas takes a shot from inside the box clearing the bar.
34:16 Darren Bent gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Antolin Alcaraz. Direct free kick taken by Hendry Thomas.
31:59 Substitution Cristian Riveros is brought on as a substitute for Ahmed Elmohamady.
31:59 Right-footed shot by Hugo Rodallega went wide left of the net.
28:47 Centre by Steed Malbranque.
27:12 Shot comes in from Kieran Richardson from the free kick.
27:12 Booking The referee books Steve Gohouri for unsporting behaviour.
27:01 Unfair challenge on Darren Bent by Steve Gohouri results in a free kick.
26:24 The assistant referee signals for offside against Mauro Boselli. Simon Mignolet takes the indirect free kick.
24:43 Short corner taken by James McCarthy.
23:33 Ahmed Elmohamady concedes a free kick for a foul on Hugo Rodallega. Free kick taken by Hugo Rodallega.
21:43 Hugo Rodallega fires a strike on goal direct from the free kick.
21:43 Sent off Lee Cattermole receives a red card for second bookable offence.
21:40 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Hugo Rodallega by Lee Cattermole.
20:47 Jordan Henderson takes the free kick.
20:47 Booking The referee shows Emmerson Boyce a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
20:34 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Darren Bent by Emmerson Boyce.
17:58 Antolin Alcaraz takes the free kick.
17:58 Booking The referee books Lee Cattermole for unsporting behaviour.
17:49 Lee Cattermole concedes a free kick for a foul on Mohamed Diame.
15:17 Mauro Boselli has an effort at goal from long distance that misses to the right of the goal.
14:48 Emmerson Boyce sends in a cross, clearance by Nedum Onuoha.
13:40 Corner taken right-footed by Jordan Henderson, save by Ali Al Habsi.
10:47 Ahmed Elmohamady takes the free kick. Lee Cattermole gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on James McCarthy. Direct
free kick taken by Maynor Figueroa. Long range shot by Maynor Figueroa goes wide right of the target. Mauro Boselli is ruled
offside. Nedum Onuoha takes the indirect free kick. Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Nedum Onuoha by Hugo Rodallega.
Free kick taken by Anton Ferdinand.
10:47 Booking Hendry Thomas is booked.
10:37 Hendry Thomas challenges Darren Bent unfairly and gives away a free kick.
9:42 Shot by Hugo Rodallega. Nedum Onuoha gets a block in. Inswinging corner taken by Ronnie Stam.
8:55 Unfair challenge on Mauro Boselli by Danny Welbeck results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Ronnie Stam.
6:44 Effort from the edge of the area by Mohamed Diame goes wide of the right-hand upright.
5:10 Hendry Thomas challenges Danny Welbeck unfairly and gives away a free kick. Kieran Richardson takes the direct free kick.
3:47 Hugo Rodallega challenges Nedum Onuoha unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Nedum Onuoha.
3:14 Unfair challenge on Lee Cattermole by Mauro Boselli results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Simon Mignolet.
1:18 Maynor Figueroa gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Ahmed Elmohamady. Titus Bramble takes the free kick.
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