There was a crushing inevitability when Stephane Sessegnon did score. After spending the the first twenty minutes wandering around the pitch like a particularly lethargic Terminator, the Benin forward pounced on a parry from Westwood to smash the ball into the back of the net and give West Brom the lead.
He showed little emotion after scoring, less out of respect to the half-arsed 'footballer's code' of not celebrating against former teams, and more because he didn't need to. Instead he remained ice cool, knowing he'd caused some damage to Paolo Di Canio's Sunderland plans. The Black Cats remain bottom, still waiting to jel as they fall further behind the rest of the league.
Despite the emphatic nature of the result, Suderland started the game very well. Though Kieran Westwood almost lost out to Nicolas Anelka early on when attempting to shepard a ball back into his box, the away side pressed West Brom's shaky defence, and the Baggies looked severely lacking in confidence. However they couldn't turn their dominance into goalscoring opportunities and it was the home side, through Sessegnon, that took the lead.
The Benin man started the move playing the ball out to wing. The cross was a perfect ball to Scott Sinclair, just inside his own six yard box, who forced a good point black save from Westwood. However, Stephen Sessegnon, charging in from deep, determined to be the one to add to his former side's woes, smashed the rebound into the back of the net.
Sunderland were deflated, and lost their composure after the goal. They no longer looked to play through Ki, and West Brom tried to capitalise, beginning to control possession. Amalfitano hit a thunderous shot cutting in from the right, which was deflected onto the bar, while Sessegnon continued to cause problems. Last season's most fouled players drew booking from the referee to both Colback and Ki.
The Black Cats best chance to equalise came through Adam Johnson who was found with a cross from Giaccherini. The wingers shot was deflected just wide of the post. Fabio Borini was also a threat, and he almost won a penalty after capitalising on some sloppy Baggies' defending. He toed the ball past Myhill, with the West Brom keeper just pulling out of a challenge at the last minute to avoid bringing down the Italian. Otherwise, Sunderland showed nothing, and West Brom went in the break ahead.
It's becoming a habit of Di Canio's to make changes at half-time, and the decision to replace Giaccherini with Mavrias at the break looked, initially at least, a very baffling one. To his credit, the Greek made an instant impact and looked very dangerous cutting in from the left. A good ball from him, after receiving a pass from the very tidy-looking Ki, went just behind everyone.
Sunderland were getting a lot of joy down the left hand side, with Colback, who is continuing to develop into a fine attacking left-back, finding space. His cross found second half substitute Altidore, who, bearing down on goal, saw his shot crucially blocked and out for a corner.
Though the away side started the second half very well, West Brom still threatened. Sessegnon's name will feature prominently tomorrow's headlines, but it it was French winger Roman Amalfitano who was the star of the show. He showed good skill on the right, before his looped cross went just over the head of Anelka. Sessegnon then turned Diakite with ease, and struck a shot just over the bar.
With the game still firmly in the balance, it's crucial moment came on the 70 minute mark. Lee Cattermole, who had just come on to make his first appearance of the season, showed his under-rated passing ability to thread a lovely ball through to Adam Johnson. Johnson's cross found Fletcher free in the middle, but for once the Scot's left footed effort didn't find the target, instead rising over the crossbar. Fletcher then fell from the momentum, landing on his shoulder harshly. The medical team came on and the news was not good. Having made all three subs, Sunderland had to play the remainder of the game with ten.
The home side immediately took advantage, and doubled their lead just six minutes later, thanks largely to the work of the superb Amalfitano. The Frenchman beat both Colback and Mavrias, getting to the by-line and putting in a dangerous cross. Westwood lept amongst the bodies in the box to get there first, but his punch was weak and straight at Liam Ridgewell. The defender had a tap-in and West Brom went 2-0 up.
It was a hammer blow for Sunderland, who had bettered the Baggies in the second half before Fletcher's injury. 3-0 is certainly a flattering scoreline for the home side, which is how it finished after Amalfitano got a deserved goal in injury time to finish things off.
Sunderland remain bottom of the table and winless, and though Di Canio is right when he says the team needs longer to jel, the Black Cats could find themselves too far adrift by the time they do, especially with such a hard upcoming run of games. The Italian certainly did little to help his cause, staying on the pitch at the end of the game, to communicate with the travelling fans. It was, speaking frankly, a bizarre moment, and another case of Di Canio's ego proving problematic. It looks like Stephen Sessegnon got out at a good time.
We'll have more reaction to today's game in our Match Stream HERE in the coming days.