Sunderland dump Premier League opposition out of the cup again after stunning Max Power goal
Sunderland produced another excellent Carabao Cup display to dump out Premier League opposition for the second successive round.
The Black Cats defended superbly after Max Power’s stunning early strike to land their first clean sheet of the season and advance to the third round.
Both sides have made extensive changes but Sheffield United still fielded a side packed with experience in the top two tiers.
They started well, with Lee Burge doing exceptionally well to deny Callum Robinson’s effort, flying away to his left to palm clear an effort that looked destined to nestle in the far corner.
Robinson went close again when Tom Flanagan stumbled on the ball, Burge racing off his line to intercept the danger.
The home side looked dangerous and purposeful, but were rocked by an exceptional moment of individual quality.
After a fairly harmless long ball from the Sunderland defence was headed behind for a corner, Sunderland fired the set piece to the edge of the area. Luke O’Nien played it across to Power, who stepped away from his marker and unleashed a wonderful effort that left Simon Moore with no chance in the Sheffield United goal.
The Black Cats were buoyed and went close again as Elliot Embleton drifted infield and curled an effort low to Moore’s right, who was able to turn away from danger.
After a bright start the home side were beginning to lose momentum, though Robinson continued to be a major threat, strong with his back to goal and lively in the channel.
He almost produced an equaliser when breaking free down the left, his precise low cross just evading the onrushing Lys Mousset by a matter of inches.
Luke Freeman and Chris Maguire then traded relatively unthreatening efforts from distance, the Black Cats increasingly comfortable and frustrating their opponents with a good defensive shape.
They forged a good opening when Maguire raced free down the right, but Powe’s touch was just too heavy on the edge of the area and the home defence were able to clear
Influential early on, Burge was seeing less and less of the ball and though he had to turn away a Mousset effort on the stroke of the interval, Sunderland went into the break with a worthy lead.
Their momentum was checkd by a frustrating injury to Elliot Embleton, Denver Hume his replacement on the left wing.
In an unfamiliar role, the young midfielder has been composed in possession and disciplined off it.
Hume started brightly and almost produced an assist when his low cross found O’Nien in the box. The midfielder took a touch before firing just wide on his weaker foot.
Chris Wilder had seen enough and hauled off his two strikes, bringing on Leon Clarke and Oli McBurnie.
The home side increasingly took control of possession but struggled to open the Black Cats up, who were being forced deeper but defending resolutely.
They picked their moments to break and though O’Nien’s acrobatic volley eventually drifted out for a throw in, he had picked up a good position in the box to gather Maguire’s cross.
Sheffield United continued to labour, their only effort of note as the game approached the last ten minutes a wild drive from Richard Stearman that flew well wide of the far post.
The home side continued to apply a lot of pressure in the closing stages but led by superb defensive debuts from Joel Lynch and Laurens De Bock, Sunderland held on to another cup lead to the delight of their travelling support.
Sunderland XI: Burge; McLaughlin, Flanagan, Lynch, De Bock, O’Nien, McGeouch, Power, Embleton (Hume, 45), Maguire (Dobson, 90), Wyke
Subs: Grigg, Leadbitter, Taylor, Connelly, Patterson
Sheffield United XI: Moore; Freeman, Stearman, Jagielka, Bryan (Fleck, 70) , Osborn; Besic, Morrison, Freeman; Mousset (McBurnie, 56), Robinson (Clarke, 56)
Subs: Stevens, Fleck, Basham, Norwood, Verrips
Bookings: Fleck, 77