SUNDERLAND secured a Capital One Cup quarter final tie with Gus Poyet’s former club Chelsea after getting the better of high-flying Southampton.
Goals from Phil Bardsley and Seb Larsson ensured the Black Cats progressed at the Stadium of Light, with the hosts holding off a late scare against the much-changed Saints.
Sunderland controlled the first half, without creating anything clear-cut, and were rewarded after the break when Bardsley - making his fourth appearance since returning to the fold under Poyet - bundled the ball over the line after ex-Black Cats keeper Kelvin Davis couldn’t hold it.
Substitute Seb Larsson then doubled the advantage - after replacing the injured Ondrej Celustka - before Maya Yoshida immediately pulled a goal back to give Sunderland a late scare.
Poyet’s side will host Chelsea on Tuesday, December 17.
Sunderland made seven changes from the side which lost 1-0 at Hull City - three of which were enforced with Lee Cattermole and Andrea Dossena suspended, and Keiren Westwood ruled out through injury.
Vito Mannone took Westwood’s place in goal, while Ondrej Celustka came in at full-back alongside centre-back Wes Brown, who made his first competitive start since January 2012.
Ki Sung-Yeung and Craig Gardner joined Jack Colback in a central midfield three, while Emanuele Giaccherini and Adam Johnson were reinstated to the starting XI in support of Jozy Altidore.
Southampton made 10 changes to the side from Saturday’s draw at Stoke, with striker Jay Rodriguez the only survivor.
Giaccherini should have done better in the 15th minute after a sustained period of Sunderland possession resulted in Johnson feeding Celustka down the right flank.
Celustka crossed low for Giaccherini, but with an inviting opportunity 12 yards, the Italian completely scuffed his right-footed effort.
But the following exchanges were devoid of clear-cut chances, with Sunderland keeping possession well, yet failing to test ex-Black Cats keeper Kelvin Davis.
Southampton had the best opportunity of the half, a minute before the interval, when Jack Cork caught Sunderland’s defence dozing by feeding Gaston Ramirez in space on the right-hand side of the area.
But with just Mannone to beat, Ramirez blazed his angled left-footed shot well over the bar.
HALF-TIME Sunderland 0 Southampton 0
Two minutes into the second half, Sunderland were denied a well-worked opener by a smart save from Davis.
Phil Bardsley floated the ball into the area and Jozy Altidore met it with a first-time back-heel into the path of Gardner.
The midfielder drilled a low right-footed shot at goal, but Davis blocked well with his legs.
Davis was to blame though as Sunderland broke the deadlock in the 59th minute.
Johnson’s hit a free-kick from the left to the far post which was headed back across goal by Brown.
Altidore met it with a downward header which Davis couldn’t hold and Bardsley was on hand to scramble it over the line.
Sunderland suffered a blow with 20 minutes to go when Ondrej Celustka limped off with what appeared to be an ankle injury.
Mannone had a let-off in the 75th minute when his attempted clearance cannoned off the back of substitute Adam Lallana, looped over the keeper and drifted just wide.
With four minutes to go, Sunderland doubled their advantage when Southampton were caught on the break and Altidore pounced on a loose ball to feed substitute Seb Larsson down the right-hand side of the area.
Larsson kept his cool and fired a first time right-footed into the far corner.
Southampton pulled a goal back immediately though when substitute James Ward-Prowse whipped in a free-kick from the right which was headed back across goal by Jos Hooiveld.
Maya Yoshida got above Larsson to head it beyond Mannone from six yards out and give the Saints hope.
FULL-TIME Sunderland 2 Southampton 1
SUNDERLAND: Mannone, Celustka (Larsson 70), Brown, O’Shea, Bardsley, Gardner, Ki, Colback, Giaccherini (Fletcher 90), Johnson, Altidore. Subs not used: Cabral, Cuellar, Borini, Mavrias, Dixon. Booked: Ki (45), Larsson (90)
SOUTHAMPTON: K Davis, Chambers, Yoshida, Hooiveld, Fox, Cork, Reed, S Davis (Lallana 70), Ramírez, Lee (Ward-Prowse 57), Rodriguez (Gallagher 79). Subs not used: Gazzaniga, Clyne, Isgrove, Stephens. Booked: Cork (58), Hooiveld (75)