It looked to be all but over for the Black Cats before the half-time whistle, with goals from Marko Arnautović and Peter Crouch rounding off an excellent first-half performance. However, a late goal from Jermain Defoe gave the home side some hope.
The home side started brightly in the second period, with chances from Fabio Borini, Xherdan Shaqiri and Jack Rodwell but couldn’t do anything to prevent yet another defeat for the Black Cats.
Starting as you mean to go on
Both sides headed into the clash at the Stadium of Light in desperate need of points, and it looked from the first whistle that the visitors were raring to go from the off.
They came very close to taking the lead in the 11th minute when Glen Johnson played the ball into Crouch. The inform striker looked to have nabbed another goal for his tally, but Donald Love did brilliantly to make the crucial block and put it behind.
However, the Scotsman could do nothing to prevent his side falling behind four minutes later, and it was way too easy for the Potters.
Shaqiri did well to find Arnautović down the left, who has first effort saved by the feet of Vito Mannone. The deflection fell back into the feet of the Austrian and he made no mistake the second time around, smashing it into the roof of the net.
Dead and buried
Mark Hughes’ side were on a warpath from that point on, as they quickly added a second to the scoreline in some fantastic fashion. Arnautović started the great move with one-two between himself and Shaqiri splitting the packed defence, another give and go with Crouch opened it up for the striker to curl it past Mannone.
Shaqiri had proven dangerous in the opening proceedings, and has his own opportunity in the 33rd minute. The Swiss international let rip a powerful effort from just outside the area, which was fumbled onto the post by Mannone.
The third goal was added in the 34th minute, and it looked like the nail in the coffin for David Moyes’ team. Once again it way too simple for the visitors with Charlie Adam’s ball in, it found Crouch who rose with ease to nod home past a flapping Mannone.
Glimmer of hope
It took what looked to be the killer blow to kick the home side into life, as they got a glimmer of hope five minutes before the break.
It was poor from the Potters as a long ball to Defoe found him one-on-one with Lee Grant, there was only one winner in that situation as he burst into the box and slotted home with help from the far post.
Looking for a way back into it
Moyes’ side will have been boosted by that late goal and that momentum looked to carry over into the second period as they look to make a real game of it.
Borini had a good opportunity in the 47th minute as he got behind Bruno Martins Indi, the Italian had the space to shoot but it was comfortable for Grant to palm away.
Shaqiri was it once again as he made an excellent run before sliding it through to Arnautović but on his hat-trick he managed to hook the effort wide of the post.
The remaining fans inside the Stadium of Light will have been baffled how they didn’t pull another goal back on the hour mark. Defoe looked for Adnan Januzaj with the pass deflected by Erik Pieters, it came into the path of Rodwell who had all the time in the world but still managed to scuff his effort.