Sheffield Wednesday 0-3 Sunderland AFC
A dominant display at Sheffield Wednesday ensured Sunderland AFC returned to winning ways on Friday evening.
Dan Ballard opened the scoring in South Yorkshire with just five minutes on the clock, towering above the Owls' defence to head beyond Devis Vasquez.
The Black Cats doubled their lead three minutes later, as a rapturous 3,000-strong away end somehow cranked the volume up further after witnessing Jack Clarke’s stunning solo strike.
Tony Mowbray’s side added a third before the break, with Clarke – the Sky Bet Championship’s leading scorer – netting his second of the night from the penalty spot.
The Lads continued to dominate despite not adding to the scoring, instead strolling to victory, three points, and up to fourth in the second tier.
Mowbray made one change at Hillsborough Stadium, as Patrick Roberts, whose stoppage-time winner against the Owls sent Sunderland to Wembley in 2022, returned to the starting XI in place of Abdoullah Ba.
The home side entered the fixture in the midst of off-field unrest – and the opening five minutes did little to raise South Yorkshire spirits, as the Black Cats doubled up early on.
Ballard struck first on five minutes after rising above the Wednesday defence, with Clarke driving inside and sending a thumping finish into the corner just three minutes later.
Wednesday failed to regroup and it was 3-0 before the break, as Clarke notched his second from the spot after an incisive turn from Mason Burstow led to a penalty.
The Lads picked up where they left off following the restart, with Roberts tearing down the wing at every opportunity against a beleaguered Wednesday backline.
Anthony Patterson was called into action to deny Callum Paterson in a rare home foray forward, but Adil Aouchiche and Ba entered the fray with 25 minutes on the clock and one-way traffic resumed.
Chris Rigg, Nazariy Rusyn and Jenson Seelt were also introduced, as the Lads played out the rest of the 90 with composure and confidence to seal three points at Hillsborough Stadium.
Sheffield Wednesday: Vasquez, Diaby (Palmer 79), Byers, Gregory (Fletcher 79), Paterson, Valentin (Delgado 73), Bernard, Buckley (Gassama 73), Hendrick, Famewo, Musaba.
Subs not used: Dawson, Vaulks, Iorfa, Bakinson, Smith.
Sunderland AFC: Patterson, Ballard, O’Nien, Hume (Seelt 85), Huggins, Neil, Jobe, Pritchard (Aouchiche 67), Clarke (Rigg 77), Roberts (Ba 67), Burstow (Rusyn 77).
Subs not used: Bishop, Taylor, Triantis, Luis Hemir.