Steve Bruce's new-look strike partnership were successful again as his side capitalised on Wes Brown's fourth-minute red card to end a long run of winless Premier League form
The defender was given his marching orders after only three minutes for a professional foul on Shane Long after Phil Bardsley's dreadful pass played the forward in.
Long then scored his second goal in as many games with a first-half header and strike partner Nikica Jelavic opened his Hull account with a header of his own after the break as Bruce's side secured their first Premier League win of the year.
It was the first time that Bruce had been back at Sunderland since being sacked in November 2011 and the Tigers' victory brought his former club back down to earth following their derby win over Newcastle.
|VIEW FROM THE STADIUM
|By Alex Ward
Wes Brown's third red card of the season - a feat only matched by five other players in Premier League history - turned the tide on the Wearside resurgence as his side were given a stark reminder that they are far from being out of the woods. Ahead of Saturday's encounter, Sunderland looked nailed-on to claim the full spoils but they were forced back to the drawing board by one moment of recklessness.
A man short, they struggled for fluency from the moment referee Mike Jones reached into his pocket and, for all their tireless endeavour, they could do nothing to claw their way back after Shane Long's early goal.
Hull City's growing relegation fears had been laid bare after four defeats in their last five outings prior to kick-off but the new-look partnership of Long and Nikica Jelavic has breathed life into a malaise-stricken side and paid significant dividends. To Steve Bruce's delight, both capitalised on the numerical advantage as the Black Cats were able restore some clear blue water between themselves and the relegation battle unfolding beneath them.
Bruce will not admit it, of course, but the chance to exact some revenge on his former club was just the icing on the cake.
Poyet unsurprisingly named an unchanged side following February 1's 3-0 triumph at Newcastle, with Liam Bridcutt making his home defeat at the expense of fit-again midfielder Lee Cattermole. Jake Livermore returned to the Hull starting line-up after being ineligible to face his parent club, Tottenham, with Robbie Brady dropping to the bench.
Sunderland came into the game brimming with confidence after their win at St James's Park but their positivity was punctured early on when Brown was dismissed.
Bardsley was the chief culprit as his sloppy pass set Long clear and Brown upended the striker just outside the penalty area - prompting referee Mike Jones to reach for his red card.
Vito Mannone saved the resulting free kick from Tom Huddlestone and Poyet reacted to Brown's dismissal by replacing forward Fabio Borini with debutant defender Santiago Vergini. That change failed to have the desired effect, though, as Hull capitalised on their numerical advantage 15 minutes in.
Mannone was only able to palm away Huddlestone's corner and the alert Long nodded in from close range after Livermore had helped the ball on.
Hull were in command and ex-Everton striker Jelavic was unfortunate not to score his first Hull goal 10 minutes later when his header was clawed out by the agile Mannone before Long's left-footed strike from outside the area hit the post.
Bruce's side knocked the ball around with confidence at the start of the second half but were almost caught out nine minutes after the break when Steve Harper kept out Ki Sung-Yueng's right-footed effort.
Jelavic should have done better two minutes later when he was sent clear but dragged his tame finish wide of the far post.
Jelavic was not to be denied after 63 minutes, though, when Maynor Figueroa's shot struck Vergini and looped into path and he duly guided his header beyond Mannone.
Mannone then denied Sone Aluko a goal on his return from injury when he palmed away the Nigerian forward's left-footed strike as Hull secured a comfortable win.