Attendnace: 40, 246
A positive opening period turned to dust at the Stadium of Light as the Black Cats crumbled and Romelu Lukaku ran riot.
The Belgium international scored an 11-minute treble during the second period to silence the SoL and send Everton into third place in the Premier League.
Sunderland matched and often bettered their counterparts during the opening period with Adnan Januzaj and Jermain Defoe causing problems for the Toffees, but Ronald Koeman’s side romped through the gears following the interval and when Lukaku headed the opener the Black Cats failed to recover.
The Belgium international added a second eight minutes later – 60 seconds after clattering the crossbar – as the Sunderland defence once again failed to keep tabs on the striker who planted a second free header into the net.
And he completed his hat-trick on 71 minutes, springing the offside trap before slotting the ball past a helpless Jordan Pickford to complete a frustrating night for David Moyes’ side.
Jan Kirchhoff was named in the starting XI for the first time during the 2016-17 season, with new signings Jason Denayer and Didier Ndong named among the substitutes.
John O’Shea was also named on the bench after returning from injury for Republic of Ireland during the international break, with stand-in skipper Defoe once again sporting the armband.
A frantic start on Wearside saw Januzaj take centre stage with the on-loan Manchester United winger sparking into life at every opportunity.
First the 21-year-old combined brilliantly with Defoe whose shot cannoned off Phil Jagielka, with the Everton captain denying the Belgium international 60 seconds later as he attempted to weave into the box.
Januzaj was at the core of Sunderland’s positive start but it was by accident not design that he created the game’s first clear-cut opening, as his blocked effort looped into the path of Defoe who lifted the ball over Maarten Stekelenburg and the crossbar.
Starting slowly, Everton almost grabbed the lead with 13 minutes played as Lukaku arched a header towards the top corner, but Pickford produced a brilliant one-handed save to thwart the Belgian.
The remainder of the opening 45 minutes was fraught as a host of scrappy fouls tempered the free-flowing opening, but Januzaj sparked the game back into life as the first-half came to a close.
A brilliant pull-back into the box following a mazy run caused panic and Everton failed to clear, with Lynden Gooch whipping a cross-shot into the danger zone and towards the top corner where Stekelenburg somehow managed to get a vital touch.
The Black Cats remained on top during the closing stages but they were unable to find a breakthrough as the sides entered the interval on level terms.
Sunderland’s success during the opening period was built on the formidable partnership established by Djilobodji and Kone, and the defensive duo were forced into action following the break as Everton, who replaced Ross Barkley with Deulofeu at the interval, stepped up the pace.
First Djilobodji needed to be on his toes to clear a loose ball as the Toffees looked to pounce, with Pickford forced into a flying save later in the attack as Deulofeu let fly.
Kone shutdown Lukaku seconds later with the sides continuing to trade blows as a Defoe effort was blocked behind.
With the rip-roaring pace of the opening stages rediscovered, Sunderland looked to stamp their mark on the game and they almost took the lead on 52 minutes as Kone’s bullet header nestled into the grasp of Stekelenburg.
But once again Everton fought back from the ropes and attempted to deliver a knockout blow.
The Toffees, galvanised in the final third following Deulofeu’s introduction, went within inches of an opening goal soon after as Coleman’s shot whistled across goal and was almost turned home by Lukaku.
Sunderland continued to apply pressure but it proved to be their downfall as they fell behind on the hour mark.
Januzaj’s corner was headed back across goal by Kirchhoff but Everton seized possession and broke in numbers, with Idrissa Gueye eventually picking out the unmarked Lukaku who planted a header into the net.
Moments later the Belgian almost grabbed his second as he thundered an effort off the crossbar, but it didn’t take long for the powerful striker to pounce again to albeit end the contest.
Once again he was left unmarked as Yannick Bolasie turned provider, picking out the striker who powered a header past Pickford from close range.
Three minutes later Lukaku completed his hat-trick as Kevin Mirallas unlocked the Sunderland defence and sent the striker through on goal, giving the Black Cats stopper no chance for the third time in 11 minutes.
That proved to be that as the game the Toffees comfortably played out the remainder of the encounter, with Sunderland heading to the capital next to face Tottenham Hotspur as they continue to chase a first Premier League win.
Sunderland: Pickford, Manquillo, Kone, Djilobodji, van Aanholt, Rodwell, Kirchhoff (Denayer 75), Gooch (Khazri 57), Januzaj, Watmore (Ndong 73), Defoe.
Subs not used: Mika, O’Shea, McNair, Love.
Everton: Stekelenburg, Baines, Jagielka, Williams, Coleman, Barry, Gueye, Bolasie (Davies 76), Barkley (Deulofeu 46), Mirallas, Lukaku (Kone 89).
Subs not used: Joel, Lennon, Funes Mori, Holgate.
89). Subs not used: Joel, Lennon, Funes Mori, Holgate.