Johnson slams in hat-trick to seal emphatic away win.
Adam Johnson stunned Fulham with a deadly hat-trick as Sunderland romped to victory at Craven Cottage.
Johnson was unstoppable throughout the 90 minutes in an effervescent display as he netted a sublime free-kick before setting up a goal for Ki Sung-Yueng as the Black Cats went in 2-0 ahead at the break.
Steve Sidwell's header gave Fulham a way back into the game, but Johnson put the Cottagers to the sword with an emphatic low finish to cap a superb counter-attack before clipping home a late penalty.
Gus Poyet's side looked dangerous every time they attacked and were comfortable winners in the end as they made it seven points from their last three away games and five matches unbeaten overall on the road.
The victory was Sunderland's second in as many seasons at Fulham and the visitors fully merited all three points.
Johnson had earned pre-match praise from head coach Poyet after playing key roles in back-to-back cup wins, and he shone after being handed a start as Sunderland secured a third straight victory in all competitions.
Having played a key role as a sub in the 2-1 victory over Manchester United in the Capital One Cup in midweek, Johnson returned to the starting line-up alongside Jack Colback, with Emanuele Giaccherini and Seb Larsson dropping the bench.
Despite what was to come, Fulham started brightly with a couple of early opportunities falling to Dimitar Berbatov.
The frontman headed a corner straight at Vito Mannone after just seven minutes and should have done better just two minutes later, firing wastefully wide after Sascha Riether won the ball from Wes Brown and picked out his wide-open colleague with a low cross.
Adel Taarabt and Clint Dempsey both fired wide from distance, while Fulham keeper David Stockdale had to be alert at the other end to keep out an 18th-minute effort from Phil Bardsley which took a deflection off Colback, who was attempting to get out of the way.
And the visitors created a good opening with a well-worked move four minutes later – Johnson seeing a free-kick headed back across goal by John O'Shea for Steven Fletcher, who got his head to the ball ahead of Stockdale but could only nod over the bar.
Taarabt was then denied by a good save from Mannone after bursting down the right, but Sunderland surged ahead just before the half-hour thanks to a sublime effort from Johnson.
Brought down by Sidwell just outside the box, the winger dusted himself down and curled a super effort into the top corner from 20 yards - Stockdale got both hands to the ball but couldn't keep it out.
It was a lead they would never lose.
League debutant Marcos Alonso nearly made it two when Stockdale dropped Ki's free-kick, but the defender had to squeeze his shot through a crowd of players and the effort was blocked.
But Sunderland did double their advantage four minutes before the break with another clinical set-piece.
Johnson pulled a training-ground delivery low across the box for Ki, who buried a powerful shot which struck a defender on its way into the net.
The goal was Sunderland's 7000th in all-time league competition – making the Black Cats only the tenth club to achieve that feat.
Sunderland looked comfortable but were pegged back as Fulham halved the deficit seven minutes into the second half.
Damien Duff curled in a corner from the right and Sidwell nipped in to stoop and head home from a couple of yards out.
Now Sunderland were facing a real test as the hosts looked to apply pressure – but the momentum fizzled out as Sunderland continued to look dangerous going forward.
Borini fired wide after drifting in off the left flank before Stockdale did well to claw away Lee Cattermole's deflected shot just after the hour, with the midfielder close to his first goal for the club.
Fletcher then headed over from a well-delivered corner before making way for sub Jozy Altidore 66 minutes in.
And the American played a role in his side's third goal just three minutes later as a textbook counter-attack paid dividends.
The striker touched a neat ball off to Ki who again played the role of skilled technician, sliding a brilliantly-weighted ball into the path of the onrushing Johnson, who drilled his shot through the legs of Stockdale.
But there was to be no way back into the contest this time for Fulham as Sunderland continued to move the ball smartly, with Larsson introduced off the bench in place of Borini.
And a memorable away win was wrapped up five minutes from time when Johnson completed a well-deserved hat-trick from the penalty spot.
Altidore, forward on the break, was clearly fouled by Philippe Senderos and Johnson stepped up to covert the coolest of penalties, rolling the ball into the back of the net with Stockdale diving the wrong way.
It was a fitting way to round off a superb individual performance from the winger and an excellent showing from Poyet's side, who looked bang in form on an important afternoon.
At the other end, Mannone ensured Fulham didn't get more than the one goal with a fine stop late on, somehow blocking Sidwell's shot at point-blank range before Brown slid in to clear the loose ball off the line deep into injury time.
Fulham: Sidwell (52)
Sunderland: Johnson (29, 69, 85 pen), Ki (41)
- Yellow Riise
- Yellow Parker
- Duff (Dejagah)
- Taarabt (Kasami)
- Yellow Sidwell
- Dempsey (Bent)
- Bardsley Yellow
- Colback Yellow
- Fletcher (Altidore)
- Johnson (Celustka) Yellow
- Borini (Larsson)