Match ends, West Bromwich Albion 1, Sunderland 0.
Saido Berahino scored the only goal for West Bromwich Albion as Sam Allardyce's first game in charge of struggling Sunderland ended in defeat.
Black Cats goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon was unable to collect Chris Brunt's cross under pressure from Berahino, who poked in the winner from close range.
The visitors had the best chance of a goalless first half, with Boaz Myhill tipping over a Billy Jones header.
Sunderland remain without a Premier League win this season.
The visitors, who stay second from bottom of the table, were unable to seriously test Myhill again in a game low on quality.
A bright start fades for Big Sam
Allardyce, appointed Sunderland boss during the international break following Dick Advocaat's resignation, had won his first Premier League match in charge of each of his previous four clubs - Bolton, Blackburn, Newcastle and West Ham.
His side started well at The Hawthorns and could have gone ahead with any one of three chances that came their way during a 60-second spell early in the first half.
Lee Cattermole and Steven Fletcher had shots blocked by Baggies defenders, and from the resulting corner Myhill made a superb reflex save to deny Jones a goal against his former club.
Jones and fellow full-back DeAndre Yedlin got forward well in support of Sebastian Larsson, Fabio Borini and striker Fletcher, while Sunderland's centre-back pairing of John O'Shea and Younes Kaboul were rarely breached.
However, Sunderland were denied their first clean sheet of the season by a goalkeeping error - Pantilimon's second in consecutive games following the mistake that gifted West Ham a draw in their previous outing.
Pantilimon was adamant he had been fouled by Berahino as they challenged for Brunt's cross, and there were also also claims of handball against the West Brom striker, but referee Martin Atkinson allowed the goal - the 19th that Sunderland have conceded in nine Premier League games this season.
Berahino makes the difference
In a week that Liverpool's Danny Ings was ruled out for the remainder of the campaign with a serious knee injury, uncapped Berahino could yet force his way into England's plans for Euro 2016 with a repeat of the form that saw him score 20 goals in all competitions for West Brom last season.
He was almost anonymous in the first half, touching the ball just nine times before the interval. But the 22-year-old was much more prominent after netting his third goal of the season and for the second home match in succession.
He was involved in the move that led to a good chance for strike partner Salomon Rondon, who poked a left-wing cross wide from eight yards.
Berahino's goal earned Albion's first home win of the season and lifted Tony Pulis's side seven points above the relegation zone, having started the day 17th in the table.
Flare-up at full-time
There were ugly scenes on the field at the end of the match after some Sunderland players took exception to Albion's former Black Cats winger James McClean celebrating victory in front of the travelling supporters.
Danny Graham and Cattermole were among those to confront Republic of Ireland international McClean, who was escorted off the pitch by team-mate Craig Gardner.
Pulis said: "I'd heard a roar or whatever and didn't know whether the players were involved in something. If he's out of order I'll speak to him.
"He played really well today, James. He's settled in really well, he's a smashing lad and the lads have really taken to him.
"He's not the sharpest tool in the box, and that's not being disrespectful to him. But he's a smashing lad."
Man of the match: Stephane Sessegnon
What the managers said
West Bromwich Albion head coach Tony Pulis: "The win was more important than anything else today - the win and the clean sheet.
"The first half wasn't brilliant but in the second half we were much better. We have had some tough games at home. We lost against Everton when we were 2-0 up, which was a kick in the stomach, so we needed that today.
"It was probably a bonus for us that Sam has not had a lot of time with his players because of the international break. He will give it his best shot, as he always does."
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce: "We have had a point taken away from us today which wasn't our fault. In our position that's a hugely precious point, even at this stage of the season.
"It's a big mistake by the referee. It was a clear foul in two areas: one, he [Berahino] has jumped backwards into our goalkeeper when he is not even looking at the ball. And two, he handled the ball in front of him to score.
"We know we have to build from a solid base. What looked like a 0-0 would have been a good basis for us because the goals will come."
- West Brom are the only Premier League side yet to score in the opening 30 minutes of a game this season.
- Sunderland have failed to score in five of their last seven trips to The Hawthorns.
- Thirteen of Saido Berahino's 17 goals since the start of last season have come at The Hawthorns (76%).
- Since August 2014, Berahino has scored 23 goals in all competitions, 16 more than any other WBA player.
- This is only the third time in Sunderland's top-flight history that they have gone nine games without a win at the start of the season (also 1969-70 and 1976-77).
West Bromwich Albion go to Norwich City, another side in the bottom half of the Premier League table, on Saturday, 24 October (15:00 BST).
The following day (12:00 GMT), Sunderland host Newcastle. Two local rivals, the bottom two clubs in the Premier League, Allardyce's first home game in charge - few Wear-Tyne derbies have been more important than that one.
- 25DawsonBooked at 9mins
- 5YacobBooked at 56mins
- 33RondónSubstituted forLambertat 71'minutes
- 18BerahinoSubstituted forGardnerat 79'minutes
- 1PantilimonBooked at 55mins
- 7LarssonSubstituted forJohnsonat 61'minutes
- 14Gomez Garcia-PencheSubstituted forDefoeat 71'minutes
- 9BoriniBooked at 84mins
- 26FletcherSubstituted forGrahamat 75'minutes
- 3van Aanholt
- Martin Atkinson
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, West Bromwich Albion 1, Sunderland 0.
Stéphane Sessegnon (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Fabio Borini (Sunderland).
Foul by Craig Gardner (West Bromwich Albion).
Fabio Borini (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Offside, Sunderland. Fabio Borini tries a through ball, but Jermain Defoe is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Danny Graham (Sunderland) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Adam Johnson with a cross.
Fabio Borini (Sunderland) is shown the yellow card.
Craig Dawson (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Fabio Borini (Sunderland).
Chris Brunt (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Danny Graham (Sunderland).
Substitution, West Bromwich Albion. Craig Gardner replaces Saido Berahino.
Attempt saved. Yann M'Vila (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Adam Johnson.
Attempt blocked. Jermain Defoe (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Fabio Borini.
Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Craig Dawson.
Substitution, Sunderland. Danny Graham replaces Steven Fletcher.
Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Gareth McAuley.
Substitution, Sunderland. Jermain Defoe replaces Jordi Gómez.