Ipswich boss Paul Cook was left stunned as Sunderland scored two late goals to snatch a vital 2-0 win at the Stadium of Light.
The Black Cats were yet to register a shot on target when Luke O’Nien rose to meet a corner at the back post in the 85th minute, giving his side a lead they did not relinquish.
Cook’s woes were compounded when Aristote Nsiala was penalised for handball in the first minute of stoppage time.
Aiden McGeady converted from the penalty spot, with Cook left staggered by the decision.
“It’s football,” Cook said. “If someone had said to you on 85 minutes that we’d lose the game 2-0 I think you’d have fallen over, because I didn’t see it coming.
“I never saw it coming. We were in control, we had a lot of possession albeit in the second half we didn’t really look like scoring.
“But we had big chances in the first half and you have got to take those. If we do, they have to open up and it might suit us.
“We played very, very well. The penalty decision, you couldn’t make it up.”
Sunderland boss Lee Johnson agreed that the penalty decision was harsh, but countered that Ross Stewart should have had one of his own when he was hauled to the ground late in the first half.
Johnson said the win had given him “immense pride” as the Black Cats ended a run of three consecutive League One defeats.
He was particularly proud as his side have been left without a senior full-back, after Dennis Cirkin was ruled out until the new year with a hernia problem.
Goalscorer O’Nien thrived in the unfamiliar left-back role, and Johnson said that although his team’s performance was not fluid, he felt they “edged” the game and showed that they have grown as a team.
“I think it was one of our best performances,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t Ajax or Barcelona, but we hassled and harried.
“It wasn’t champagne football, we had to deal with their quality but everybody stayed concentrated.
“I think we progressed as a team today because young players showed their steel.
“The players and staff fully deserve that win and I’ve got immense pride in the group and that includes the fans, because it’s been tough.
“We’ve made it tough but in this division only the toughest survive. At times we needed our goalkeeper, at times we should have delivered better than we did.
“First 20 minutes we were poor, and after that I was pretty pleased.
“I think it was a good League One game that we’ve edged based on that counter-attacking ability.”