A sensational hat-trick from Yannick Bolasie was the highlight of a remarkable afternoon at the Stadium of Light as the Eagles demolished Sunderland with a stunning second half display.
After a quiet first half ended goalless, three goals in the opening seven minutes of the half saw Palace race away with the game, as Glenn Murray notched his sixth in six games before laying on two goals for Bolasie.
The winger then completed his hat-trick just after the hour mark which was the first by a Palace player in the Premier League and helped the club to their equal biggest win in the division, as well as see them surpass their 40 point aim for the season with an unforgettable performance.
After absorbing plenty of pressure from the hosts early doors without seeing Julian Speroni's gloves dirtied, Jason Puncheon had Palace's first real attempt at goal on 14 minutes but after cutting inside from the left his low effort towards the near post was pounced on by Costel Pantilimon.
That was as good as a scrappy but enthralling opening half an hour got as niggly fouls and a spate of yellow cards disrupted proceedings, as well as an injury to Pape Souare which saw the left-back replaced by Martin Kelly, and his Black Cats counterpart Patrick van Aanholt saw a shot with his weaker right foot fizz wide of Speroni's far post when the hosts counter-attacked.
Soon after Steven Fletcher hooked a volley out of the sky towards goal but Speroni was able to comfortably gather the ball, but as the sides went in goalless at the break neither could have envisioned what would take place in the second half.
Two minutes after the restart the Eagles grabbed the lead and it was that man Murray again. A long ball by Damien Delaney was flicked backwards by Murray into the path of Bolasie, and the striker continued his run into the box and was picked out at the back post by the winger to powerfully head the ball past Pantilimon.
Things got even better two minutes later when another lofted pass by Scott Dann was this time flicked on by Murray into Bolasie's path, and the DR Congo midfielder managed to beat the Sunderland keeper to the loose ball and stabbed it home to score his first goal since September.
He only had to wait a couple of minutes for his next on 52 minutes when he raced onto the end of Mile Jedinak's raking pass, and Bolasie managed to get in front of John O'Shea to brilliantly loft the ball over all 6'8'' of the Romanian shot-stopper to net the Eagles' third goal in a manic five minute spell.
Incredibly, he completed his hat-trick just after the hour mark to make it 4-0. Murray wrestled the ball off off van Aanholt to go one-on-one with Pantilimon but unselfishly squared the ball to Bolasie, who rounded the keeper, managed to hold off Santiago Vergini and squeezed the ball into the net to complete a remarkable treble.
With streams of Sunderland fans hastily emptying the Stadium of Light with their side in disarray, Palace kept searching for more goals as they aimed to pile on the misery and Bolasie teed up James McArthur for a half volley which was saved by Pantilimon.
With the win in the bag Palace eased off and with two minutes to go they saw what would have been their highest win in the Premier League disappear as the Black Cats found a consolation. Van Aanholt played a one-two with Jermain Defoe on the left and picked out Connor Wickham who tapped the ball home.
In stoppage time they nearly found another when Speroni was forced to spectacularly tip over a blast from the left-back, but despite the late flourish Sunderland were well beaten as Palace enjoyed their fourth victory in a row.
Sunderland: Pantilimon, Jones, O'Shea, Vergini, van Aanholt, Gomez (Johnson 59), Cattermole (Bridcutt 65), Rodwell, Wickham, Fletcher, Defoe. Subs: Mannone, Coates, Reveillere, Buckley, Graham.
Palace: Speroni, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare (Kelly 35), Jedinak, McArthur (Ledley 69), Zaha, Puncheon, Bolasie (Sanogo 71), Murray. Subs: Hennessey, Hangeland, Gayle, Ameobi.