If this was a result Martin O'Neill would not have seen coming, it probably took Roy Hodgson by surprise as well. Set the team with the worst home-goals tally in the Premier League against the team with the best away-defensive record outside the top two and this is not the kind of outcome that is readily predictable.
Albion, their confidence soaring after the crushing defeat of Wolves two weeks ago, had not won so emphatically in the top flight since they beat Everton by the same scoreline in December 2005, and had not won at all at The Hawthorns for three months. Yet suddenly they look safe from the threat of relegation.
"We have some tough games to come against teams above us in the table and it is inevitable we will lose some of those, but we are 11 points plus goal difference above the bottom three now and that isa lot of ground to make up," Hodgson said.
Had his side's away record not been comparable with teams chasing the title it would be a different story. But yesterday, solid at the back, Albion played with pace and vibrancy in midfield, where James Morrison was outstanding but only marginally ahead of Youssouf Mulumbu and Keith Andrews in his contribution. Up front, Peter Odemwingie scored two to go with his hat-trick in the derby match, but Marc-Antoine Fortuné was equally impressive, particularly in his hold-up play.
O'Neill, witnessing a poor performance from his side for the first time since he replaced Steve Bruce, could only acknowledge that Sunderland had been well beaten. With 16 points from their eight previous matches, they had been the form team in the division.
"West Brom were just better than us on the day," he said. "What was not like us was that we did not seem to have a real appetite for the game, although it was not inexplicable. We have had a great run but we are not yet good enough to deal with a situation where we are 10-15 minutes into a game and playing second fiddle in that way."
Albion went ahead inside three minutes when Odemwingie neatly headed Mulumbu's cross wide of Simon Mignolet, and doubled their advantage before half-time when Morrison ran from deep to head home Jerome Thomas's cross.
O'Neill threw caution to the wind, sending on two strikers for a defender and a midfielder at half-time, but Albion scored on the break almost immediately after the interval when Odemwingie added his second following fine work by Fortuné on the left. A second in as many games for Andrews in stoppage time merely broadened Hodgson's smile.
West Bromwich (4-3-3): Foster; Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Morrison, Mulumbu (Shorey, 77), Andrews; Odemwingie (Long, 81), Fortuné, Thomas (Dorrans, 64).
Sunderland (4-5-1): Mignolet; Bardsley, O'Shea, Turner, Richardson (Bendtner, h-t); Larsson (Bridge, 60), Gardner, Cattermole, Colback (Campbell, h-t), McClean; Sessègnon.
Referee Chris Foy.
Man of the match Morrison (West Bromwich).
Match rating 7/10.
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