Match ends, Sunderland 0, Preston North End 2.
Preston North End cruised to a win against struggling 10-man Sunderland to boost their promotion hopes.
After a first-half stalemate, Sean Maguire headed in a dangerous free-kick from Paul Gallagher to put the visitors in front just minutes after the break.
Sunderland defender Jake Clarke-Salter, just back from a ban for a red card against Middlesbrough, was then sent off for a second bookable offence.
Callum Robinson headed in another Gallagher delivery to seal the points.
North End are now just two points behind Middlesbrough in sixth, among a host of clubs with mathematical chances of reaching the play-offs.
Defeat for the hosts leaves them bottom of the Championship, five points behind Barnsley, and without a win in 10 games as the prospect of back-to-back relegations becomes increasingly likely for their dwindling support.
Alex Neil's Lillywhites came to Wearside unbeaten in 10 away matches and they were in little danger of that record ending at a downbeat Stadium of Light.
In fairness to the home side they kept out the visitors in the first-half and had chances of their own, Ovie Ejaria dictating the play and Joel Asoro almost capitalising on a couple of chances, but were unable to find the net.
However, once the deadlock was broken through Maguire's opener Preston were able to impose themselves, and the dismissal of Clarke-Salter only added to the air of doom and gloom for Black Cats boss Chris Coleman.
Sunderland boss Chris Coleman:
"Same mistakes, same theme. I keep saying the same things every week. First 45 minutes were OK but after that we give away a ridiculous goal, the kind of goal that we don't get from opposition. We work on set plays but we don't mark and you get punished.
"Six times since I've been here we've had men sent off, maybe that's a team that's struggling and pushed to the limit. It's a common theme. I'm saying the same things as I was two weeks ago, we're conceding silly goals.
"We're only one win away from changing it round but you'd write us off because we keep making mistakes and we're not rising to the challenge."
Preston manager Alex Neil:
"We're mixing it with some big teams at the top, we're in a fantastic position and in good form.
"I'm very pleased, our main aim was to come and try to win the game. The only frustration is that it could and should have been a bigger winning margin. Both sets of players deserve credit because the conditions were so testing but we played very well.
"Once we went ahead you could see their heads go down and from that stage we should put the game to bed."
- 35Clarke-SalterBooked at 60mins
- 26HoneymanSubstituted forLua Luaat 69'minutes
- 53EjariaSubstituted forMcNairat 76'minutes
- 20MajaSubstituted forFletcherat 64'minutes
- 11Lua Lua
- 32EarlBooked at 81mins
- 12GallagherSubstituted forJohnsonat 72'minutes
- 29BarkhuizenSubstituted forBodinat 86'minutes
- 37RobinsonSubstituted forHarropat 86'minutes
- Darren Bond
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Sunderland 0, Preston North End 2.
Paul Huntington (Preston North End) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Ashley Fletcher (Sunderland).
Attempt saved. Josh Harrop (Preston North End) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Billy Bodin.
Hand ball by Ashley Fletcher (Sunderland).
Corner, Preston North End. Conceded by Lee Camp.
Attempt saved. Sean Maguire (Preston North End) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt blocked. Daniel Johnson (Preston North End) left footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is blocked.
Foul by Billy Bodin (Preston North End).
Kazenga Lua Lua (Sunderland) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Substitution, Preston North End. Billy Bodin replaces Tom Barkhuizen.
Substitution, Preston North End. Josh Harrop replaces Callum Robinson.
Joshua Earl (Preston North End) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Joshua Earl (Preston North End).
Joel Asoro (Sunderland) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt blocked. Bryan Oviedo (Sunderland) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Joel Asoro.
Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Chris Maxwell.
Attempt saved. Kazenga Lua Lua (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner.
Substitution, Sunderland. Paddy McNair replaces Ovie Ejaria.