The relegation race is still tight enough that any of the bottom four teams could stay up and any of them could drop, but after Sunday there are new favorites for 17th and last places. Sunderland demolished Cardiff City, taking an early lead before drawing a red card late in the second half on their way to a 4-0 victory.
Conor Wickham, who has enjoyed a stunning career resurgence over the last month, scored what would eventually stand as the winner in the 26th minute. Off a corner by Sebastian Larsson, Wickham rose to meet a ball at the back post and directed an extremely well-placed header into the top corner to put his side ahead.
Just before halftime, Cardiff buried themselves in bizarre fashion. Juan Cala was caught tugging on the shirt of Wickham while the Sunderland striker was facing David Marshall, but it took at least five seconds for the referee to point to the spot and send Cala off. The ref played an extremely long advantage and didn't blow the whistle until a bad angle shot by Wickham was cleared off the line. Once the penalty was given, Fabio Borini stepped up and buried it.
With 10 men and two goals down, Cardiff never had a chance to get back into the match. They generated a handful of decent half chances early in the second half and hung with Sunderland for a while, but the Black Cats put the match away for good when Borini assisted Emanuele Giaccherini for a 76th minute goal from 12 yards out. Giaccherini turned provider 10 minutes later, setting up Wickham's second to complete the rout.
Sunderland: Mannone, Alonso, Vergini, O'Shea, Brown, Cattermole, Colback, Larsson (Giaccherini 73'), Borini, Wickham, Johnson
Goals: Wickham (26', 86'), Borini (penalty 45'), Giaccherini (76')
Cardiff: Marshall, Fabio (Jones 64'), Caulker, Cala (red 45'), Catherine, Medel, Whittingham, Mutch, Cowie (Zaha 46'), Daehli, Campbell (Bellamy 74')