Late goals from Stephane Sessegnon and Nicklas Bendtner earned Sunderland their first away win of the season as they claimed a 2-0 victory and left beleaguered Bolton without a point from five Barclays Premier League matches at the Reebok Stadium.
Black Cats boss Steve Bruce had won all four of his previous matches against Bolton but five in a row looked very unlikely in an uninspiring first hour of the game.
Sunderland gradually began to pile on the pressure, though, and it was nothing more than they deserved when Sessegnon's neat turn and shot put them ahead eight minutes from time, with Bendtner making the points safe in injury time.
Bolton started energetically and Wes Brown was lucky to get away with a slice across his own six-yard box from Chris Eagles' cross.
Sunderland could have found themselves behind in the 13th minute when David Ngog broke away down the right and squared the ball for Darren Pratley, who guided his shot from 18 yards past the post.
Eagles twice let fly from long range without success, before Sessegnon volleyed wide just before half-time. Neither goalkeeper had yet made a serious save and Martin Petrov failed to change that when he struck tamely at Simon Mignolet after the restart.
Sessegnon fed Kieran Richardson at the other end and he thought he had broken the deadlock, only for David Wheater and Dedryck Boyata to smother the effort.
With 18 minutes left Sunderland finally tested Jussi Jaaskelainen, the Finn blocking a sharp shot from the lively Sessegnon, with Connor Wickham volleying the resulting corner wide.
Wickham hit the crossbar as the Black Cats continued to push and after 82 minutes, Sessegnon's impressive control and finish put them ahead.
Having been untested all game, Mignolet then produced a brilliant block to deny Pratley when he found himself through one-on-one, before the points were sealed when former Arsenal forward Bendtner slid an injury-time shot under Jaaskelainen.