It was only Di Canio's second game in charge on Wearside, but versatile midfielder Gardner has revealed that the Italian is already a favourite with the club's fans and players.
"Obviously when a new manager comes in everybody wants to impress, everybody raises their work-rate and everything really," Gardner told Sky Sports News.
"He has done a log of tactical work on the training field. He's become a legend overnight we have won the derby and the fans love him, the players love him and hopefully we have some good times ahead now."
Gardner has made 35 appearances for Sunderland this season, scoring eight goals.