Adnan Januzaj’s late stunner sent Sunderland into the third round of the EFL Cup as a spirited Shrewsbury Town were dispatched on Wearside.
Sunderland dominated the early stages camping inside enemy territory for large parts of the game, but they were unable to break down the resilient visitors who admirably stuck to their task.
Joel Asoro and Januzaj impressed up top with Lynden Gooch typically tenacious in the middle, but the Black Cats had to wait until the second period to carve out their first meaningful attempt as Asoro was denied.
Ivan Toney mustered the visitors’ best opportunity but Jordan Pickford was equal to the striker’s fierce shot, and with time ticking down both sides were in desperate need of a hero.
Sunderland found one.
With seven minutes remaining Januzaj decided enough was enough and the wing wizard sent an unstoppable drive into the net, fittingly handing David Moyes his first win on Wearside.
Sunderland fielded a strong team with a subtle blend of youth as Asoro started up top alongside Januzaj and Wahbi Khazri, with captain Patrick van Aanholt leading a back four which also included Donald Love, Papy Djilobodji and Jack Rodwell.
Washington-born ‘keeper Pickford made his first start at the Stadium of Light.
The Black Cats were rarely troubled during the opening 25 minutes but they were frustrated, with Shrewsbury showing little mercy and crunching into challenges whenever Moyes’ side entered the final third.
Asoro, 17, was bright throughout putting in a shift as the lone frontman, with Januzaj a constant menace on the right flank.
Gary Deegan and Antoni Sarcevic were both cautioned during the opening 45 minutes and it was through set pieces that Sunderland mustered their best opportunities.
Djilobodji was closest to making a difference with Khazri’s teasing free-kick narrowly evading his reach, while Januzaj saw an effort blocked seconds before Love blazed wildly off target.
Sunderland’s best opportunities of the half came late on.
First, a Ryan McGivern error allowed Steven Pienaar to seize possession and drive at goal before sending an effort whistling past the crossbar, with Asoro’s invention splitting the Shrews in two soon after only for a heavy touch to allow the visitors to recover.
Shrewsbury were far more adventurous during the early stages of the second period with Joe Riley the main threat.
The right-back broke at pace throughout but he failed to make the most of dangerous free-kick, slamming an attempt into the wall with the resulting corner failing to beat the first man.
Sunderland responded by tightening their grip on proceedings and with 58 inutes played Asoro was denied his first senior strike, with Leutwiler producing a point-blank save to deny the youngster following fine work from Januzaj.
On-loan from Newcastle United, Toney was desperate to make his mark on Wearside and he would have had it not been for Pickford, who produced a flying save to palm the striker’s venomous half-volley to safety.
Extra-time seemed inevitable as a lull in play followed but with seven minutes remaining Januzaj ended the contest with one moment of magic as the Black Cats progressed.
Sunderland: Pickford, van Aanholt, Djilobodji, McNair, Love, Rodwell, Pienaar (Watmore 60), Gooch, Khazri, Januzaj, Asoro
Substitutes: Stryjek, E Robson, T Robson, Greenwood, Honeyman, J Robson
Shrewsbury Town: Leutwiler, Deegan, McGivern, Brown, Dodds (Managan 73), El-Abd (C), Ogogo, Lancashire, Riley, Sarcevic (O’Brien 64), Toney (Waring.
Substitutes: Black, Leitch-Smith, Halstead, El Ouriachi.