"They were warriors," the Italian told Sky Sports News. "You can't be more proud than this. They did everything, they gave everything, they left all of their energy on the field.
"It was a fair result at 3-0, so I am very happy for them because they really suffered during the game. It was hard because we knew that we had a team in front of us with fantastic ability and quality."
Sunday's derby win has seen Sunderland move three points clear of the relegation zone with five games left to play this season.