Sunderland Under-23s confirmed top spot in Group B tonight to seal their place in the Premier League International Cup quarter-finals, beating Leicester City 2-0 at the Stadium of Light.
Lamine Kone returned to action for the first time since the 2-1 Championship defeat to Bristol City on October 28 and played for an hour to help secure a clean sheet for keeper Max Stryjek.
The Wearsiders needed a win to beat the Foxes to the sole automatic qualifying spot, and they came up trumps, going ahead with two goals in the final 10 minutes of the first half after a tight opening.
Lee Connelly made the breakthrough in fine style, getting on the end of a long through ball to curl a shot beyhond keeper Daniel Iversen in the 36th minute.
Midfielder Elliot Embleton added a decisive second goal seven minutes later, curling a tremendous effort home from just outside the box.
Leicester hit the post on the hour, before Layton Ndukwu just could not connect with an inviting cross to the back post and Brandon Taylor then producing a fine block to deny Josh Eppiah.
The Foxes finish as group runners-up and have a slim chance of qualifying as one of the two best runners-up.
Sunderland U23s: Stryjek, J Robson, Hume, Gamble, Taylor, Kone (Storey 60), Diamond, Embleton, Connelly, Kimpioka (Kokolo 86), Hackett (Allan 67) Subs: Woud, Young, Greenwood, Brotherton
Leicester U23s: Iversen, Johnson, Wood, Duesbury-Hall, Knight, Hughes, Thomas, Choudhury, Eppiah, Ndukwu, Gordon (Martis 79). Subs: Ughelumba, Bramley, Watts, Touray, Debayo