HEAD coach Gus Poyet branded Sunderland’s first-half display as “rubbish” in last night’s Capital One Cup victory at Birmingham City.
But the Sunderland boss was glad to see his side improve sufficiently after the break to seal their progress into the third round with an 11-minute three goal blitz at St Andrew’s.
Last season’s cup finalists were well below par for large portions of last night’s encounter, with Poyet’s men struggling to both maintain possession and muster any attacking threat.
Yet after Jordi Gomez’s first goal for Sunderland broke the deadlock with 13 minutes to go, the Black Cats netted a further brace to book a Stadium of Light clash against Stoke City in the next round.
Poyet said: “It was a strange game.
“We played rubbish for 45 minutes, but finished the game on a high.
“We’ll try to take that into Saturday at QPR.
“The first half was poor technically again, which is a little bit worrying. We couldn’t pass the ball.
“Somehow we got to half-time at 0-0, but the second half was different.
“The same group of players got something at half-time which made them play much better, caring more about the ball and we were growing and growing into the game.
“That first goal was key to changing the game completely.”
Sunderland had a double let-off on the stroke of half-time, when Birmingham striker Wes Thomas fired just wide before team-mate David Cotterill hit the post.
But Poyet speculated that Sunderland’s Premier League class perhaps told in the end at St Andrew’s, with the floodgates opening after Gomez’s superb opening strike – as the fit-again Adam Johnson and then Connor Wickham both broke their ducks for the season.
The Uruguayan added: “We gave two big chances to Birmingham and, on another day, we would have conceded.
“That didn’t happen and it was a little bit easier at the end.
“It’s not going to be perfect all the time.
“I was expecting a tough game and I went away thinking that what I was expecting was true.
“Maybe in the last 20 minutes, Premier League players are maybe better technically and physically in terms of understanding the game and that made a difference.
“But that’s football. It’s the way the cup goes.
“Birmingham had to come back and equalise and that opened the game for us.”