The game got off to a nervy start as both sides were cautious in their approach early on. However Sunderland were denied the opening goal on 11 minutes after Wickham fired the ball into the bottom corner but the referee blew up for a foul on Michael Keane when it looked more like he had slipped.
It didn’t take the centre forward too long to put the ball in the net again, this time it stood on 20 minutes. Defoe played the ball to Larsson, who held off the defender brilliantly before sliding Reveillere in behind the defence, and his first time cross was nodded in at the back post by Wickham.
Burnley rarely threatened the Sunderland goal but George Boyd had a snap shot on 29 minutes. The Black Cats failed to clear the cross from the left and neat play between Boyd and Barnes set up Boyd for a shot but he was denied by Pantilimon.
A rampant Sunderland got the crucial second goal on 34 minutes. Following good possession in the final third, Gomez looped a ball over the top for Van Aanholt, who pulled the ball back for Defoe to slot into the empty net.
The first half came to a close with Sunderland playing with confidence and probably never feeling more comfortable.
Sunderland could have made it three after a minute of the restart. Johnson slipped Van Aanholt in down the left and his cut back was met by Defoe but the Englishman’s shot was straight at Heaton.
Burnley started to see a bit more of the ball in the early stages of the second half and were nearly rewarded with a goal on 55 minutes. George Boyd’s cross was met by Ashley Barnes, but his weak header was saved comfortably by Pantilimon. Not long after Burnley attacked again through Barnes but his effort was deflected wide after good hold up play by Ings.
Although Sunderland sat back for periods in the second half Burnley never looked like breaking down the Black Cats, in fact Sunderland looked more dangerous when they ventured forward. Wickham had a chance from the edge of the box which he blasted over and Larsson’s free kick on 74 minutes went narrowly wide.
Sunderland saw out the game well with Costel Pantilimon having very little to do over the ninety minutes as the two first half goals were enough to bag all three points.
Sunderland (4-1-3-2): Pantilimon, Van Aanholt, Vergini, O'Shea (c), Reveillere, Bridcutt, Larsson, Gomez, Johnson (Alvarez 86’), Wickham (Graham 76’), Defoe (Fletcher 75’).
Subs: Mannone, Jones, Coates, Alvarez, Giaccherini, Graham, Fletcher.
Goals: Wickham (20’) Defoe (34’)
Burnley (4-4-2): Heaton, Trippier, Shackell (c), Keane, Mee, Arfield, Jones, Marney, Boyd (Wallace 60’), Barnes (Vokes 76’), Ings (Jutkiewicz 61’).
Subs: Gilks, Duff, Kightly, Wallace, Reid, Jutkiewicz, Vokes.