Ross Stewart scored twice as Sunderland thrashed struggling Crewe to move back into the automation promotion places in League One.
A Terrell Thomas own-goal midway through the first half set the Black Cats on their way at Gresty Road, with Stewart adding the second on the half-hour.
The Scot scored his second of the match - and his ninth of the season - shortly before the hour, and Leon Dajaku came off the bench to mark his return from injury with a stunning solo goal to complete the rout 15 minutes from time.
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Sunderland could have added more goals, with Will Jaaskelainen in the Crewe goal making some fine saves - particularly in the first half.
But this victory saw Lee Johnson's side climb to second place, a point behind leaders Plymouth but with two games in hand of the Pilgrims.
After missing the last two league games with an ankle injury, Aiden McGeady returned to the starting XI at Gresty Road.
He replaced Elliot Embleton - who was starting a three-game suspension following his red card at Gillingham on Saturday - in the only change Johnson made to the side that began at the Priestfield Stadium.
Crewe boss David Artell made four changes, in his case to the side that started Saturday's 3-0 defeat at Fleetwood.
Former Sunderland striker Mikael Mandron came into the side up front, with Kayne Ramsay, Christopher Long, and Donervon Daniels also starting.
They replaced Rio Adebisi, Chris Porter, Oliver Finney, and Scott Kashket.
Crewe's starting XI also included ex-Black Cat Callum McFadzean, who was released at the end of last season.
Sunderland started on the front foot and tested Jaaskelainen twice in the opening quarter-hour.
First Tom Flanagan met a Pritchard corner with a firm header which the keeper did well to tip over the bar.
And then following surging run from Aiden O'Brien, the ball was fed to Pritchard inside the area on the left and his shot was pushed away by the keeper once again.
Crewe then began to threaten at the other end, although Chris Long's effort from range was straight at Thorben Hoffmann, and shots from Scott Robertson and Kayne Ramsay were off-target.
Sunderland reasserted control and Jaaskelainen did just enough to keep out a deft touch from O'Brien, as he met a McGeady cross at the near post.
But Sunderland hit the front in the 25th minute as Pritchard delivered a cross from the left and the hapless Thomas swung a boot at it and only succeeded in slicing his attempted clearance into the top right-hand corner.
The Black Cats then doubled their lead on 32 minutes with a well-worked goal, as Pritchard's pass released Dan Neil inside the area on the right and he stood the ball up for Stewart to stoop and head home.
And they could have added a third goal five minutes before the break, when McGeady whipped in an inviting low cross from the left which was met by O'Brien on the charge at the far post but he could not keep his shot down.
Sunderland started the second half where they had left off in the first, and Carl Winchester brought a save out of Jaaskelainen early on.
The third goal came ten minutes after the restart, with Pritchard's corner from the right flank touched on by Callum Doyle at the near post and the ball ran all the way through to the far post, leaving Stewart with a tap-in.
At the other end, Hoffmann had had very little to do but that changed just before the hour when he produced an excellent stop to deny Mandron.
But it was a rare chance for the hosts, and Sunderland added their fourth goal in the 73rd minute.
From a Crewe corner, Sunderland hit them on the break with McGeady playing the ball to Dajaku just inside his own half and he raced half the length of the field to get into the area on the left, and his powerfully-struck shot beat the keeper at his near post and found the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
How they lined up
Crewe Alexandra: Jaaskelainen, Offord, Thomas (Sass-Davies 72), Daniels, Ramsay, Robertson, Murphy, Long (Gomes 59), McFadzean, Mandron, Bennett (Kashket 59). Subs not used: Richards, Adebisi, Porter, Finney
Sunderland:Hoffmann, Winchester, Flanagan, Doyle, Cirkin (Hume 65), O'Nien, Neil, O'Brien, Pritchard (Dajaku 57), McGeady (Wright 74), Stewart. Subs not used: Burge, Harris, Younger, Wearne
Booked: Winchester, Cirkin
Referee: Carl Boyeson (East Yorkshire)
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