Clarke scores twice in Sunderland win at Sheff Wed
Last updated on .From the section Championship
Sunderland moved up to fourth in the Championship as they dismantled winless Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.
And it was 2-0 after just eight minutes when the Championship's top scorer Jack Clarke was allowed to cut across the face of the 18-yard box and lash home his sixth of the season inside the right-hand post.
Clarke heaped more pressure on Owls boss Xisco Munoz when he tucked a 30th-minute penalty into the bottom corner - his sixth goal in five games - after Bambo Diaby had pulled down Mason Burstow.
Rock-bottom Wednesday have mustered just two points and five goals in nine league games this season and are four points from safety having played a game more.
In contrast, Tony Mowbray's eye-catching side sit five points behind leaders Leicester after a fifth league win in seven - and a third away victory in a fortnight.
They are also now the Championship's top scorers with 18 goals in nine games, including 14 from their last five.
Wednesday's build-up to the game was clouded by a matchday statement from their owner Dejphon Chansiri complaining at his treatment by disgruntled fans, and saying he will not put any more money into the club.
A minute's applause before kick-off for Sheffield United midfielder Maddy Cusack was well observed, but the mood swiftly turned sour among the home support as Sunderland's lightning start prompted more calls for Munoz and Chansiri to leave.
The Owls grew into the game and provided a few bright spots, with John Buckley forcing goalkeeper Anthony Patterson into a scrambling save, but the Black Cats' pace going forward continued to unsettle the hosts, with Jobe Bellingham impressing as the pivot for their breaks.
A third successive way win looked all but done after Clarke's second on the half-hour. But it could have been even worse for the home side before the break, with Bellingham scuffing a shot wide when well placed and the unmarked Ballard heading Pritchard's corner just wide.
The Owls kept plugging away in the second half, with Pol Valentin's storming run and cross teeing up Callum Paterson who smashed a shot straight at his namesake Patterson. The visiting keeper also denied the hosts a stoppage-time consolation with a smart stop from George Byers' bullet header.
But Wednesday continued to look vulnerable on the counter as Patrick Roberts almost grabbed a fourth, within seconds of Paterson's shot, while Bellingham also curled a super effort inches wide.