Connor Wickham’s purple patch continued as Sunderland hammered 10-man Cardiff City 4-0 to move out of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone.
Head coach Gus Poyet stated that it would take a "miracle" for Sunderland to survive after their defeat at Tottenham Hotspur earlier this month, but they must fancy their chances of pulling off the great escape after Sunday's victory at a packed Stadium of Light, which ensured Cardiff replace them at the foot of the table.
The resurgent Wickham, fresh from scoring goals at Manchester City and Chelsea, set them on their way when he headed in after some poor Cardiff defending.
And fellow striker Borini, scorer of the winning penalty in a stunning 2-1 triumph at Stamford Bridge, was on target from the spot again on the stroke of half-time after Juan Cala had tugged back the impressive Wickham and was shown a red card.
Emanuele Giaccherini added a third, and another Wickham header capped a miserable outing for Cardiff, who are now two points behind Poyet's men with two matches remaining and facing the prospect of an immediate return to the Championship.
Sunderland, on the other hand, have momentum on their side with three matches to play after moving up to 17th place in the table, leaving Norwich City in the drop zone.
Wickham was passed fit after sustaining a knock at Stamford Bridge last weekend and the in-form striker had the bit between his teeth as Sunderland started in the ascendancy.
Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall had to be alert to turn the former Ipswich Town man's effort from wide on the right around the post five minutes in.
Marshall was beaten 25 minutes in, though, when the lively Wickham capitalised on some hesitant Cardiff defending to head in at the back post after Sebastian Larsson's corner from the left was not dealt with.
With the balance of play firmly in their favour, Sunderland strengthened their grip on the game a minute into first-half stoppage time, when Borini doubled their lead after Cala was given his marching orders by referee Phil Dowd.
Cala's poor backpass allowed Wickham to race clear and although he stayed on his feet after being tugged back - initially outside the penalty area - there was no advantage, so Dowd pointed to the spot before showing the Spanish defender a red card and Borini kept his cool to find the bottom-right corner.
Solskjaer replaced Don Cowie with Wilfried Zaha at half-time, but Cardiff were rattled and Fabio Da Silva was possibly fortunate to only be shown a yellow card after he barged Larsson over early in the second half.
Jordon Mutch headed over the crossbar and Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone reacted superbly to keep out a deflected Peter Whittingham free-kick as Cardiff threatened a comeback.
Any hopes of a Cardiff rally were ended 15 minutes from time, however, when second-half substitute Giaccherini finished clinically with his left foot after Borini had picked him out.
Giaccherini then turned provider for Wickham four minutes from time, swinging in a corner which the striker stooped to head home to cap a fine performance in front of a fervent crowd on Wearside.
Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet: "We've done everything but done nothing. There are still games to play, and everything can change.
"We have put ourselves in the best position possible. We're getting the breaks and maybe we're getting them at the right time, at the end.
"It's very easy for me to pick the team now, which is credit to the players who have been there week-in, week-out. Let's see if we can finish well."
Cardiff City manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: "The effort and attitude was there for everyone to see. We go into the next two matches knowing we have to win those two.
"It's a great challenge for everyone at the club. We need two strong performances. The most we can get is 36 points and, if we can get that, I think that will be enough to keep us up.
"We've given ourselves a mountain to climb and we need to start climbing."
"Going in at half time 2-0 down made it very hard for us. But I don't want to talk about the decision because it's been made and there is absolutely nothing I can say to change that. It's the result that matters and we lost."
|11 May 2014||v Swansea (H)|
|07 May 2014||v West Brom (H)|
|03 May 2014||v Man Utd (A)|
|26 Dec 2014||v Sunderland (H)|
|28 Dec 2014||v Aston Villa (A)|
|01 Jan 2015||v Man City (A)|