Sunderland's survival hopes look bleaker than ever after Manchester United strolled to a 3-0 victory that gives Jose Mourinho's men a timely shot in the arm.
A lot was riding on Sunday's Stadium of Light encounter, with United needing to kick-start their top-four hopes against a side for whom anything but victory would only push them closer to the precipice.
Manager David Moyes may well feel aggrieved by Seb Larsson's first-half red card but Sunderland were already behind to a ferocious Zlatan Ibrahimovic strike by that point, with second-half Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford goals seeing United cruise to a win.
It appears a case of when rather than if the Black Cats' decade-long Premier League stay comes to an end, having failed to score in a seventh straight match.
Sunderland have seven matches to make up a 10-point deficit after Moyes - whose threat to 'slap' a female reporter is being looked at by the Football Association - saw his former club go ahead through a fine Ibrahimovic strike.
The hosts may well feel hard done by after Eric Bailly avoided giving away a penalty shortly before Larsson's harsh-looking sending off, with a frustrating end to the first half compounded within seconds of the restart.
Mkhitaryan put the game to bed with a low strike before Rashford's first Premier League goal since September 24 wrapped up a win that moves United within four points of a Champions League berth.
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Additional reporting by PA.Reuse content