Sensational. Stunning. Sunderland.
David Moyes’ side produced a performance for the ages as Crystal Palace were put to the sword at Selhurst Park.
With nine minutes played the beast was back as Lamine Kone volleyed home the follow-up after soaring above the Eagles defence, with Didier Ndong’s sublime long-range effort doubling the advantage three minutes before the break.
Where there are goals, there is often Jermain Defoe, and the striker refused to be patient with a delightful double ramming home Sunderland’s advantage to ensure a 4-0 lead at the break.
Jack Rodwell and John O’Shea succumbed to injury during the second period, but it did little dampen the mood in the away end as the red and white army roared their team to victory.
Keep the faith.
January signing Bryan Oviedo made his Sunderland debut replacing Javier Manquillo, with Adnan Januzaj restored to the starting XI as Fabio Borini dropped to the bench.
And the Belgian created the first opening of the afternoon with a wonderfully-weighted through ball which unleashed Defoe.
The striker did well to use his strength and hold off the advances of James Tomkins, but the former West Ham United defender did enough to force Defoe wide and Wayne Hennessey made the save.
Two minutes later, the Welshman was beaten and the Black Cats led.
Seb Larsson was the architect as Kone towered above the Palace defence and forced Hennessey into action, but he dropped the ball under a challenge from Billy Jones and the Ivorian – off balance – slammed the rebound into the corner.
At the opposite end Larsson lived dangerously after picking up an early yellow card, with a cynical trip on Wilfried Zaha earning a final warning from referee Andre Marriner.
And the resulting free-kick delivered a second heart-in-mouth moment within 60 seconds, as Scott Dann inexplicably headed wide from two yards with the goal at his mercy.
Ndong was once again outstanding in the centre of the park, combining athleticism and grit to boss the midfield and thwart the Eagles on numerous occasions.
And moments before the break he put the icing on the cake, winning the ball from Joe Ledley before taking one touch and curling a sumptuous strike beyond the helpless Hennessey.
What followed was pure magic, as Defoe took centre stage.
Big Sam warned of the threat posed by the mercurial frontman but his players didn’t listen, with Defoe smashing in a third from a tight angle before turning in the box and delivering a knockout blow on the stroke half-time.
Crystal Palace 0-4 Sunderland!
Palace rarely troubled Sunderland during the opening stages of the second period, but the Black Cats did suffer a double injury blow before the hour mark as Rodwell and O’Shea limped down the tunnel.
Darron Gibson and Joleon Lescott were called upon; the duo made their Sunderland debuts.
Zaha missed the Eagles’ best chance powering a free header straight at Mannone, with Januzaj inches away from adding a fifth before being replaced by Steven Pienaar.
And the Italian was assured until the end, denying substitute Loic Remy on two occasions as the Frenchman went on a one-man mission to spare Palace’s blushes.
It couldn’t be done, though, and Sunderland marched back to Wearside with a spring in their step following a seismic win in South London.
Crystal Palace: Hennessey, Ward, van Aanholt, Tomkins, Dann, Cabaye (Ledley 27), Zaha, Benteke, McArthur (Remy 61), Delaney (Townsend 45), Puncheon.
Substitutes: Spironi, Flamini, Sakho, Fryers.
Sunderland: Mannone, Jones, Oviedo, Denayer, Larsson, Rodwell (Gibson 52), O’Shea (Lescott 57), Ndong, Defoe, Kone, Januzaj (Pienaar 77).
Substitues: Mika, Borini, Khazri, Manquillo.