This is what happened as Sunderland snatch quarter final place with superb penalty win against QPR
Sunderland sealed a place in the quarter finals of the Carabao Cup with a penalty shootout victory over QPR.
The Black Cats performed superbly against Championship opposition and sealed the win with three perfect penalties, QPR twice missing the target and drawing one excellent stop from Lee Burge.
The home side felt they had been more than unfortunate when Charlie Austin had a goal ruled out for offside less than ten minutes before the end, and Lee Johnson’s side had been fortunate to survive one challenging spell from the break.
But they had moments of their own and acquited themselves well to deal with the step up in opposition, and bookd their progress to the utter delight of nearly 3,000 travelling fans.
Johnson had made seven changes for the game, but still fielded a strong side for what was sure to be a stern test.
Not only had QPR made an excellent start to their Championship game, but Mark Warburton had made good on his pre-match promise to aggressively pursue a quarter-final berth, naming a side featuring the core of his league XI.
The early exchanges were notably quicker both in the speed of passing, and the aggression in the pressing, than your usual League One contest.
To begin with, Sunderland coped with the step up superbly.
They created the first opening when Lynden Gooch drifted infield from the right flank, as he would do regularly in the opening exchanges. His through ball was good and released Dajaku, who got his effort on target from a narrow angle but Seny Dieng did well, resisting the tempation to go to ground early and thus being able to make a relatively simple block with his chest.
The vistors kept coming.
Ten minutes in Dan Neil picked the ball up in a deep position and spotted an opening, driving to the very edge of the box. His low effort drew another smart stop from Dieng, who turned the ball away from danger.
Sunderland were finding space, particularly beyond the wing-backs, and that was underlined when Dajaku was again able to get to the byline shortly afterwards. His low cross was good but beyond his team-mates, running out for a throw in on the far side.
After that initial wobble QPR began to settle, forging their first opening with a well-worked set play. The ball was worked to Barbet on the edge of the box, and his effort drew an excellent save from Burge low to his right.
Johnson’s side saw their momentum halted further when Denver Hume, who had started brightly, was forced off with an injury just as his comeback was beginning to really gather pace.
The Black Cats continued to press with intent, but increasingly found themselves on the back foot.
QPR were now getting their wing backs into the final third, and were forcing errors in possession. They went close when Gooch was caught on the ball, Dykes driving forward but firing straight at Burge.
The chances began to flow for the hosts. Chair, increasingly impressive, fired an effort inches wide after Kakay’s clever cutback, before Gooch was again robbed on the ball out on the right.
Dykes went even close this time, his effort just deflected wide of the far post.
Sunderland looked in need of the interval, and had to survive two further scares. First as Alves sliced a cross from Chair onto the roof of his own net, and then when Neil lost possession and allowed Gray another effort on goal.
For all their initial work, the Black Cats had been lucky to escape a poor spell unscathed.
The break served them well. For all they struggled to really test Dieng in the opening stages of the second, by and large they were able to regain their composure in possession and ask questions of the home defence.
They went close when a neat move saw O’Nien’s low cross cut out just before Stewart could meet it, and shortly afterwards a dangerous low ball from Dajaku just evaded Gooch as he ran across goal.
It took the hosts until after the hour mark to produce their first effort of note, substitute Charlie Austing firing over the bar on the volley after good work from Kakay down the right.
Johnson had made attacking changes to try and find the crucial goal, Aiden McGeady and Aiden O’Brien almost combining to near immediate affect as the latter turned the former’s cross just wide of the far post following a good break.
The Black Cats were looking the more likely, McGeady regularly finding space in dangerous positions down the left.
A touch more composure might have seen them take the lead when his cross bounced kindly for Winchester at the back post, but his effort was well over the bar.
QPR, though, thought they had won it with just under ten to play. Sunderland ceded a corner seemingly under little pressure, and Burge was forced into an outstanding save when De Wijs curled an effort towards the far corner.
The follow-up effort was initially blocked, but when substitute Austin turned the ball over the line it looked as if Sunderland were on the ropes.
Around half a minute later the linesman lifted his flag for offside, much to the bemusement of just about everyone in the ground.
A superb contest continued to right until the closing stages, Dieng saving superbly from McGeady after another strong Sunderland counter.
Sunderland took an early advantage in the shootout when Burge flew to his left to deny Austin, before Ilias Chair blazed over.
McGeady, Stewart and Pritchard gave their side the advantage before Barbet did the same as Chair, sending the away end into utter delirium.