Fulham 1 Sunderland 3
Fulham had captain Brede Hangeland sent off before crashing to a home defeat amid a flurry of second-half goals.
Hangeland was dismissed on the half-hour mark for a two-footed challenge on Sunderland skipper Lee Cattermole – the only real incident of note in a first half devoid of entertainment.
But the match exploded into life after the break, Steven Fletcher firing Sunderland ahead only for 10-man Fulham to equalise through substitute Mladen Petric.
Parity lasted just a couple of minutes, however, as Carlos Cuellar nodded the visitors back in front and Stephane Sessegnon curled in a cracker to set Sunderland on the way to their first away win of the season.
Fulham were the superior side in the first half hour but were unable to carve open an organized Sunderland defence and chances were rare.
The key incident came on 30 minutes. Hangeland’s ball-winning challenge on Cattermole was deemed reckless and dangerous by referee Lee Probert and the Whites captain was given his marching orders.
Fulham kept pressing though and Dimitar Berbatov should have scored when teed up by Damien Duff, only to shoot tamely at keeper Simon Mignolet.
Sunderland, with only seven league goals to their name this season, went ahead on 51 minutes, Fletcher winning a foot race with Philippe Senderos to convert Adam Johnson’s angled pass.
Fulham leveled when Petric, who had only just replaced the injured Bryan Ruiz, slid home Duff’s cross as the static Sunderland defence appealed in vain for offside against the Irishman.
Sunderland restored their lead shortly afterwards, Cuellar nodding home Johnson’s corner, and within five minutes they were 3-1 up, Sessegnon curling an unstoppable effort beyond the despairing Schwarzer.
Fulham (4-2-3-1): Schwarzer; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise; Sidwell, Karagounis (Senderos 34); Duff, Ruiz (Petric 59), Kacaniklic (Rodallega 27); Berbatov.
Subs not used: Kelly, Dejagah, Smith, Stockdale.