Pompey ensured it would be a very Merry Christmas by seeing off Sunderland in a pulsating encounter on the south coast.
There was plenty of energy, but little goalmouth action before the break – but that certainly changed after it.
Gareth Evans opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Glenn Loovens had been sent off for a foul on Oli Hawkins.
Ronan Curtis soon doubled the advantage, although Luke O’Nien reduced the deficit in front of the biggest crowd Fratton Park had seen for seven years.
Nerves were quickly calmed, however, as Ben Thompson added another for the Blues, who continued to attack right up until the final whistle.
Kenny Jackett stuck with the same side that had battled for a point up at Barnsley the previous week.
However, David Wheeler had sufficiently recovered from a hamstring injury to take his place among the substitutes.
The atmosphere inside a packed Fratton Park was crackling before a ball had been kicked and continued to impress throughout the contest.
But while the action on the pitch was often played at a hectic pace, there were not many clear-cut chances to excite the sell-out crowd during the first half.
Ronan Curtis was a threat for the hosts and Jon McLaughlin came tearing from his line to deny the Republic of Ireland international a shot.
A shot for O’Nien then hit Nathan Thompson right in the face, with the right-back looking dazed, but able to continue.
Pompey put some dangerous balls into the mixer, but the Sunderland defence looked solid and headed everything clear.
Hawkins thought he should have been awarded a penalty midway through the half after having his shirt tugged by O’Nien, although referee Peter Bankes disagreed.
There were plenty of firm challenges going in, with Lee Brown and Lee Cattermole both receiving a talking to following one clash.
Hawkins was booked by Bankes for a foul on Loovens, with Curtis and O’Nien also getting a ticking off.
Duncan Watmore did well down the Pompey right on 36 minutes, only to see his cross deflected into Craig MacGillivray’s arms.
And the Black Cats had the best chance of the half just before the break, with Watmore squaring for Lynden Gooch, whose shot was saved by the legs of MacGillivray.
Half Time: Pompey 0 Sunderland 0
It had been entertaining fare before the break, but the action moved up a few gears immediately after the restart.
A brilliant ball from Curtis was latched on to by Hawkins, who charged into the box and was unceremoniously hauled down by Loovens.
Bankes immediately pointed to the spot and life soon got worse for the Sunderland defender, who was shown a red card.
It was EVANS who stepped up to take the penalty, with the skipper slamming the ball right into the top corner.
And it soon got even better for the league leaders after CURTIS collected a header from the hard-working Hawkins.
It looked like crossing for the well-placed Jamal Lowe was the better option, but instead he drove the ball into the net from a tight angle.
But the action was not going to let-up and Sunderland reduced their deficit when O’Nien turned home a cross from Max Power.
It was soon the Blues back on the attack and an effort from Evans was deflected narrowly past the post.
The respite was a brief one for the visitors, however, as they fell further behind from the resulting corner.
McLaughlin did well to keep out a firm Hawkins header, but Sunderland could not get the ball clear and Ben THOMPSON’s drive was deflected into the roof of the net.
The opportunities kept coming at both ends, with another attempt from the on-loan Millwall midfielder going wide, while Gooch blazed over for the Black Cats.
MacGillivray then took a heavy touch from Brown’s back-pass, but recovered well to deny Gooch.
Hawkins almost capped his impressive display with a goal on 73 minutes, sending his header from a Curtis cross inches past the post.
He received a standing ovation when being replaced by Brett Pitman soon after, with Evans having already been withdrawn for Ben Close.
And the two substitutes combined to put the ball in the net late on, only for Pitman to be flagged offside.
Pompey looked likely to add to the scoring in the closing stages and Close had a shot saved by McLaughlin.
But the crowd did not seem to mind settling for just the 3-1 win, as they exited the ground full of festive glee.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray; N.Thompson, Whatmough, Clarke, Brown; Naylor, B.Thompson; Lowe, Evans (c) (Close 72), Curtis (Green 87); Hawkins (Pitman 81)
Goals: Evans 48 (pen), Curtis 53, B.Thompson 63
Booked: Hawkins, Curtis, N.Thompson
Subs not used: Bass, Walkes, Burgess, Wheeler
Sunderland (4-1-2-1-2): McLaughlin; O’Nien, Loovens, Baldwin, James; Cattermole; Honeyman (c) (Maguire 58), Power; McGeady (Sinclair 78); Gooch, Watmore (Ozturk 49)
Goals: O’Nien 57
Sent off: Loovens
Subs not used: Ruiter, Oviedo, McGeouch, Maja
Referee: Peter Bankes
Attendance: 19,402 (2,637 away fans)