Black Cats secure fourth-round berth.
Interim head coach Kevin Ball guided Sunderland safely through to the next round of the Capital One Cup as two well-taken goals saw off League One side Peterborough.
Emanuele Giaccherini’s half-volley just after the half-hour gave the hosts the lead, and the Black Cats doubled their money through sub Valentin Roberge with 17 minutes to go.
Ball oversaw a thorough performance against free-scoring Posh, who had rattled in 11 goals in their previous two ties in this competition.
The impressive Adam Johnson led the way, Giaccherini pushed and probed and an honourable mention should go to Lee Cattermole, who did well in his first start since February.
Following his appointment as interim head coach, Ball had spoken of the tough test lying in wait for his side and he named a suitably strong line-up.
Cattermole was one of four returning players, with Carlos Cuellar, Seb Larsson and Jozy Altidore also winning recalls.
Sunderland showed early promise, with Larsson shooting narrowly wide and Altidore seeing a low drive blocked by Peterborough keeper Bobby Olejnik inside the first six minutes.
Passing and moving well on the greasy surface, the hosts continued to make inroads and could have gone ahead just after the quarter-hour when Craig Gardner headed off-target from close range after the Peterborough defence failed to deal with a Larsson corner.
Ball’s side remained patient, with Cattermole playing impressively in a defensive midfield role and mopping up any United counter-attacks.
Altidore’s lovely dummy teed up a shooting chance for Giaccherini 24 minutes in, with the American letting a forward pass run through his legs for the Italian to fire wide from just inside the box.
And it was Giaccherini – looking lively in a central attacking role - who threatened again just moments later.
Jack Colback’s low cross from the left was made to measure for his colleague, who steamed in to meet the delivery on the edge of the six-yard box only to touch the ball over the crossbar.
Substitute Joe Newell blasted a left-footed drive just wide on a counter-attack, but Sunderland had slipped up another gear with Giaccherini seeing a shot blocked after good work from Johnson and Gardner.
It seemed only a matter of time until the deadlock was broken as Altidore prodded a Johnson cross narrowly over the top.
And so it proved, with Giaccherini bagging his first goal at the Stadium of Light just after the half-hour.
Cattermole curled a lovely cross into the no-man’s-land between keeper and defender for the Italian, who nipped in front of his marker to score with a clinical half-volley.
The visitors would have gone in at the break 2-0 down but for the intervention of the woodwork, with Altidore’s crisp low drive striking the base of Olejnik’s right-hand post two minutes before half time.
Only a timely clearing header from John O’Shea on the edge of his own six-yard box prevented Posh from threatening in the early moments of the second period as the League One side looked for a way back into the game.
Johnson nearly responded in style with a curling effort which flashed past Olejnik’s far post, while Ki Sung-Yueng’s blast from the edge of the box was deflected over - the shot surely would have otherwise found the net.
Only a fantastic saving challenge from Gabriel Zakuani then prevented Johnson from going one-on-one after Colback picked him out with an angled through ball just before the hour.
But Peterborough weren’t done – their form in League One this season signalling their quality with just one defeat all season – as Keiren Westwood did well to gather an awkward effort from Britt Assombalonga from distance.
And there was a scare 20 minutes from time when a dangerous free-kick fizzed to the back post, struck Colback and bounced just wide. The Posh fans high up at the other thought the effort had gone in.
However, there was no doubt about Sunderland’s second goal three minutes later, with Roberge opening his account in fine style.
Larsson’s corner was clawed away by Olejnik, Johnson fed the ball back into the box and the Frenchman – on as a 61st-minute substitute for O’Shea - guided a deft header of real quality between the goalkeeper’s outstretched hand and the post.
The timely goal gave Sunderland a cushion, with Peterborough threatening only through Tyrone Barnett’s off-target header late on plus a Michael Bostwick drive which Westwood dealt with comfortably.
At the other end Olejnik did well to grab Larsson’s powerful free-kick as Sunderland secured a place in the fourth round.
- Yellow Cuéllar
- O'Shea (Roberge)
- Yellow Colback
- Yellow Ki
- Giaccherini (Borini)
- Yellow Johnson
- Altidore (Wickham)
- Rowe (McCann)
- Swanson Yellow
- Payne (Mendez-Laing)
- Tomlin (Newell)
- Adilson Cabral