Burnley 4 Sunderland 1: Gray days for Black Cats amid Anichebe injury fears
Sunderland ended 2016 in the relegation zone and fearing a long lay-off for Victor Anichebe.
The Black Cats, who could have moved out of the bottom three with a win at Turf Moor, were sunk by an Andre Gray hat-trick.
However, the loss of Anichebe in first-half injury time will be the biggest blow to boss David Moyes.
The powerhouse striker has been a talisman for the Black Cats and the worry is there will be a lengthy absence.
On the subject of talismen, that was exactly what Gray was to Burnley.
While he took each of his goals well, all three were Sunderland gifts.
The first arrived in the 31st minute and bordered on the comical.
John O'Shea, who started in midfield but dropped into defence after an early injury to Lamine Kone, and Papy Djilibodji both jumped for same ball against Ashley Barnes.
The ball flicked off the skipper and gave Gray a clear run on goal and his shot went straight through Mannone from 18 yards.
Sunderland were then undone by two Gray goals inside three second-half minutes.
The first came from another hopeful punt forward. Gray got away from Djilobodji too easily and when Mannone came racing out, he got no where near forward.
It left the number seven with an empty net to stroke the ball into to double the home lead.
And he soon had a third. Steven Pienaar, on for Anichebe, trod on the ball, allowing Burnley to lump ball forward to Barnes who played in Gray who finished from seven yards.
The presents continued in the 67th minute when Seb Larsson needlessly felled Scott Arfield in the box.
Barnes sent Mannone the wrong way from the spot.
There was a tiny morsel of consolation for the away side when Jermain Defoe tucked away his ninth of the season following a mazy run by Adnan Januzaj.
But it was the only away goal for the away side who are now nine points behind the Clarets.
Burnley: Heaton, Lowton, Keane, Mee, Ward, Boyd, Arfield, Defour (Gudmondsson 67), Marney, Gray (Vokes 78), Barnes (Tarkowski 85)
Unused subs: Robinson, Darikwa, O'Neill, Bamford
Goals; Gray 31, 51, 53, Barnes (pen) 67
Booked: Marney 45
Sunderalnd: Mannone, Jones, Kone (Ndong 24), Djilobodji, van Aanholt, Larsson, O'Shea (Love 72), Januzaj, Borini, Defoe, Anichebe (Pinaar 46)
Unused Subs: Mika, Khazri, Rodwell, Manquillo,
Goal: Defoe 71
Booked: Jones 44
Referee: Graham Scott