Emmanuele Giaccherini came off the bench to make it 3-0 with 15 minutes left on the clock, while Wickham found the net again late on to seal his side's victory and push Cardiff to the bottom of the table.
Here, Sports Mole takes a closer look at the action between the two teams at the Stadium of Light.
On target: 7
On target: 1
Was the result fair?
Sunderland came away with a deserved win thanks to a committed and adventurous display. In contrast, Cardiff lacked ambition and ultimately paid the price with a devastating defeat.
The Black Cats looked like the hungrier team from the first whistle, attacking with intent while keeping their shape and making it hard for Cardiff whenever the visitors enjoyed some rare possession. Adam Johnson, Fabio Borini, Connor Wickham and Jack Colback all linked well up front for the hosts, keeping Cardiff busy with their purposeful passing and movement. The away side mounted some pressure during the second half, but the experienced Sunderland back four remained firm to keep a clean sheet. Overall this was a very satisfying day at the office for Gus Poyet and his players.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should be disappointed with his players following a spineless display that had all the hallmarks of a team heading for the Championship. Playing one striker limited their options from an attacking perspective, but it was a lack of bite in midfield that cost them dearly. Sunderland were allowed too much time on the ball, which saw Cardiff end up well beaten on a torrid afternoon in the North East. The Bluebirds still have a glimmer of hope when it comes to staying up, but they will need to find some inspiration from somewhere if that is to happen.
Sports Mole's man of the match
Adam Johnson: The Sunderland winger was a constant threat on the flanks, running at the Cardiff defence with plenty of menace and vigour. The Englishman's crossing was also an important factor in his team's victory as the visitors struggled to cope with the Black Cats' aerial prowess.
Juan Cala had a moment to forget leading up to his red card and Sunderland's penalty as it was his poor back-pass that played in Connor Wickham. Had the defender got more on the ball, then there could well have been a different outcome to the game because it gifted the hosts a boost from nowhere right before half time.
Phil Dowd's biggest decision was awarding Sunderland a penalty just before the interval. The official did well to allow play to continue before bringing it back after Wickham's goal-scoring opportunity had passed. However, there is some debate as to whether the tug on Wickham's shirt from Cala came outside of the area. That incident aside, Dowd had a solid game out in the middle on what was an important day for both clubs.
Sunderland: The Black Cats return to Premier League action on Saturday when they face Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Cardiff: The Bluebirds continue their fight for Premier League survival on Saturday with a trip to Newcastle United.