Stoke recorded their first win in nine Barclays Premier League games as goals from Charlie Adam and Steven Nzonzi steered them to a 2-0 home victory against Sunderland, who had Wes Brown sent off in controversial circumstances.
The Potters took the lead on the half-hour mark when Adam drilled in from Nzonzi's cut-back.
Six minutes later, referee Kevin Friend deemed a sliding tackle from Brown on Adam that won the defender the ball – and replays suggested any contact between the players had been minimal – to be worthy of a straight red card, a call that left Black Cats boss Gus Poyet fuming.
The Uruguayan saw his team battle bravely thereafter, but Stoke's win was sealed in the 81st minute when Nzonzi slotted home having been set up nicely by Peter Crouch.
Mark Hughes' side, who had been 17th at the start of the day and separated from the relegation zone by goal difference alone, moved up to 14th after this result.
Meanwhile Sunderland, who are three points adrift of safety, drop a place.
They now occupying the bottom spot in the table with Crystal Palace – watched from the stands by their new manager, ex-Stoke boss Tony Pulis, as they won 1-0 at Hull – having moved above them.