Bardsley and Larsson on target to see off Saints.
A late strike from substitute Seb Larsson proved decisive as Sunderland teed up a clash with Gus Poyet’s former club, Chelsea, in the last eight of the Capital One Cup.
Phil Bardsley gave Sunderland a 59th-minute lead with his first goal of the season before Larsson popped up four minutes from time, converting Jozy Altidore’s unselfish pass.
The goal was key, with Maya Yoshida halving the deficit with a header just two minutes later as Sunderland secured their first quarter-final berth in this competition in 13 years.
Poyet’s side were good value for their win at the Stadium of Light – they had the better of the play and both goals were well-taken in their own way.
Bardsley’s was sheer determination as he reacted quickest to force home a loose ball from point-blank range, while Larsson’s was a fizzing finish into the far corner.
Poyet will have been pleased with his side’s efforts as he shuffled his pack - Sunderland showed seven changes from the side defeated at Hull, with the likes of Emanuele Giaccherini, Adam Johnson, Craig Gardner, Ondrej Celustka and Ki Sung-Yueng all starting.
Meanwhile Wes Brown won a long-awaited recall, playing his first senior game since the FA Cup with Budweiser tie against Middlesbrough back in January 2012.
And Vito Mannone got the nod in goal with Keiren Westwood ruled out with a head injury having been rated as doubtful in the build-up to the game.
Southampton, going well in the Barclays Premier League, made an assured start and created a serviceable chance inside five minutes when Calum Chambers' cross was slid wide by Tadanari Lee under pressure from the attending Gardner.
But Sunderland played their way into the game, with Altidore – celebrating his 24th birthday - cutting in well off the right wing and beating Jos Hooiveld before testing former Sunderland goalkeeper Kelvin Davis with a low shot.
Their next opportunity came from the same area of the field on the quarter-hour, with Celustka and Johnson combining well before the latter found the arriving Giaccherini, who couldn’t get a proper touch on the incoming cross.
Both teams were trying to get the ball down and play, with Altidore shooting narrowly wide just before the half-hour following good chest control from Johnson on the edge of the box.
The big American’s effort was followed by another from Jack Colback, who couldn’t quite get a clean shot away in the thick of the action in the box after Gaston Ramirez’s attempted clearance.
But a fairly quiet opening period was almost rounded off with an opening goal for the visitors in the final minute of the opening 45.
Retaining possession at close quarters, Jack Cork threaded a neat ball out to the right for the unmarked Ramirez, who should have done better as he scooped his shot over the crossbar.
The hosts looked bright at the start of the second half and a fine piece of approach play from Altidore three minutes after the restart didn’t quite reap the rewards it deserved.
The striker produced a fine back-heel in mid-air to find the onrushing Gardner – the midfielder’s low drive from just inside the box was well saved by Davis, who then gathered a close-range header from the same player moments later.
Jay Rodriguez replied at the other end when he shot straight at Mannone, but the hosts were undoubtedly on top and opened the scoring just before the hour mark.
The key breakthrough came from a well-worked set-piece with the delivery made by Johnson on the right after Cork was booked for a trip on Colback out on the left.
The winger’s searching cross to the far post was headed back across by the unmarked Brown, Altidore saw a header parried by Davis and Bardsley steamed in to beat all-comers to the loose ball and poke a shot over the line from no more than three yards.
The ball struck a defender on the line on its way in, with the goal – only the sixth conceded by Southampton in all competitions this season - confirmed by the assistant referee.
Clearly the breakthrough was a big boost for Poyet’s side, who were forced to navigate the final 20 minutes or so without the services of Celustka – the right-back injured in a challenge and replaced by Larsson.
Southampton, searching for a way back into the game, saw defender Yoshida head over, while there was a nervous moment 15 minutes from time when Mannone’s clearance under pressure struck Rodriguez and bounced back past the post.
But Sunderland hit back with a well-crafted second goal four minutes from time through Larsson, who notched his first goal of the campaign.
An attempted through pass for Giaccherini was cut out but fell usefully for Altidore, who unselfishly rolled the ball to his right for the Swede to sweep a low shot out of Davis’ reach and into the far corner.
However, the visitors threatened a twist in the plot by replying within two minutes when a deep free-kick was nodded back across for Yoshida, up from the back, to glance in from close range.
But Sunderland’s path to victory wasn’t too fraught, with a wayward effort from James Ward-Prowse their only moment of concern.
And so the next stop in the competition brings up a clash with Jose Mourinho’s men, who will now visit the Stadium of Light twice in December across league and cup.
- Celustka (Larsson)
- Yellow Gardner
- Yellow Ki
- Giaccherini (Fletcher)
- Hooiveld Yellow
- Cork Yellow
- Ramírez (Gallagher)
- Davis (Lallana)
- Lee (Ward-Prowse)
- Adilson Cabral
- Yellow Larsson