Former Sunderland midfielder Alex Rae paid tribute to Notts County striker Lee Hughes after his goal ultimately dumped the Black Cats out of the FA Cup.
The 34-year-old's sixth strike in seven games 15 minutes from time put the visitors into a 2-0 lead which the Premier League side were unable to erase in a late fightback.
County assistant manager Rae said: "He's an absolute handful. He has scored six goals in seven games, so he has still got a lot to offer.
"But it is not just that, his physical presence helps us a lot as well. He gets a lot of flick-ons and he is a handful."
Hughes also had a hand in the opening goal, which came in controversial circumstances with home keeper Simon Mignolet appealing in vain for a foul.
Craig Westcarr's flick from Ben Davies's cross looked harmless until Kieran Richardson collided with Mignolet as he tried to claim the ball under pressure from the former West Brom striker.
Sunderland's response was tepid, although record singing Asamoah Gyan passed up a glorious chance to equalise in the final minute of the first half.
They were little better after the break and the game looked to be over when Hughes carved his way through the home defence and, after Mignolet had blocked his initial effort, drilled the loose ball into the empty net.
Hughes's celebrations did not go down well with the home fans, whose hopes were raised briefly when Darren Bent converted an 81st-minute penalty, but the England striker headed over in the sixth minute of stoppage time as a belated fightback came up short.
Sunderland manager Steve Bruce cut a forlorn figure as he surveyed the wreckage of another short-lived cup adventure.
He made seven changes to the side which won 1-0 at Aston Villa in midweek, some of them enforced, but others with one eye on Sunday's derby with Newcastle.
He said: "Certainly by looking at what we have just witnessed today with six or seven missing, we simply aren't good enough.
"With six or seven out, we simply couldn't handle it, so that's the disappointing thing for me."