Sunderland responded to two successive Premier League defeats with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over a sluggish West Ham at the Stadium of Light.
The Black Cats, who had won just three of their last 14 Premier League games at the Stadium of Light, went ahead in the 12th minute courtesy of a thunderbolt of a strike from Sebastian Larsson, with Adam Johnson scoring a second at the start of the second half.
West Ham have never managed to recover from falling behind to beat Sunderland in a Premier League match, and they failed to score for the fourth away league match in succession, while James McClean added a third late on to compound their misery.
The Hammers have now won just two of their last 16 Premier League matches away from home, while for Sunderland it was a crucial home victory as Martin O’Neill’s side moved away from the relegation places.
John O'Shea and Stephane Sessegnon returned from injury for the Black Cats, while Hammers boss Sam Allardyce welcomed back Winston Reid and Matt Jarvis as James Tomkins and Ricardo Vaz Te made way, with a place on the bench for loan signing Marouane Chamakh.
Sessegnon, who was excellent throughout, caused havoc early on with his pace down the left, and he came close to finding the corner of Jussi Jaaskelainen’s net with a low drive from 25 yards after cutting inside in just the second minute.
Sunderland should have taken the lead in the ninth minute as Johnson whipped over a pinpoint delivery from a corner, only for Steven Fletcher to head over the crossbar from inside the West Ham box.
Nonetheless, the opening goal was soon to arrive: Larsson took the ball down on the edge of the West Ham box and proceeded to unleash a stunning strike to pick out the top corner and leave Jaaskelainen completely helpless. It was the Swede’s first Premier League goal since he netted twice at Manchester City in March, and his first at the Stadium of Light since December 2011.
Allardyce was called upon to make an enforced change before half-time as James Collins pulled up with a hamstring strain and had to be replaced by Tomkins, and he made a second at the break with Vaz Te introduced at the expense of Jack Collison as he attempted to shake up his lethargic-looking side.
The changes did not help the visitors, who swiftly saw their deficit doubled. Sessegnon countered at pace down the right before finding McClean, whose shot was parried by Jaaskelainen, only for 18-year-old full-back Dan Potts to crucially dally inside the box and gift the ball to Johnson who slammed home from close range. It was the winger's third goal in the last five Premier League matches at the Stadium of Light.
Chamakh was introduced just before the hour mark as Allardyce hauled off the ineffectual Carlton Cole, but it was constant pressure from the hosts as Jack Colback hit the post with a follow-up shot after drawing a smart save from Jaaskelainen.
West Ham carved out a rare chance of their own as substitute Chamakh nipped in front of Titus Bramble to meet a corner from Joe Cole, but he miscued his header completely and the opportunity went begging. It was to be a hugely frustrating afternoon all round for the Hammers.
Minutes later, Alou Diarra had a close-range effort turned off the line by O’Shea from another Joe Cole corner, but the pressure was far from sustained from the visitors, who were distinctly off colour right to the final whistle.
West Ham finally began to exert some pressure in the final third, when Sunderland broke at pace through Sessegnon, who cut inside from the right and scuffed an attempted shot to the back post, with McClean afforded a tap in to round off the counter-attack and put the match beyond doubt with his second goal of the campaign.
There was an opportunity for new signing Alfred N'Diaye to mark his first touch in a Sunderland shirt with what would have been his side's fourth goal, but he could only slide a shot wide after a pacy run and cut-back from fellow substitute Connor Wickham. It did not matter, with the Black Cats able to coast through the final few minutes with a valuable three points assured.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Stephane Sessegnon (Sunderland): A persistent threat throughout the match, drifting from flank to flank and causing havoc in the final third with West Ham unable to pick up his runs or contain his pace.
SUNDERLAND: Mignolet 7, Gardner 6, O'Shea 7, Bramble 6, Colback 7, Larsson 7, Vaughan 7, McClean 7, Johnson 7, Sessegnon 8, Fletcher 7. Subs: N'Diaye 6, McFadden 6, Wickham 6.
WEST HAM: Jaaskelainen 6, Demel 5, Collins 6, Reid 6, Potts 5, Diarra 5, Collison 5, Nolan 6, Jarvis 6, J.Cole 6, C.Cole 5. Subs: Tomkins 6, Vaz Te 6, Chamakh 6.