Sunderland defied the odds as Jack Ross’ side came from behind to beat Premier League Burnley 3-1 at Turf Moor and move into the third round of the Carabao Cup.
Burnley took the lead with Jay Rodriguez’s strike in the opening 30 minutes, Sunderland went into the break all square as Will Grigg got amongst the goals. Into the second half, within five minutes of the break Sunderland were 3-1 up with goals from Tom Flanagan and George Dobson. Sunderland held on to comfortably beat a team sixth in English football – an outstanding achievement.
Jack Ross made several changes to the side which beat AFC Wimbledon: Lee Burge, Connor McLaughlin, Jack Baldwin, Tom Flanagan, George Dobson, Dylan McGeouch, Elliot Embleton and Will Grigg all made returns to the squad.
A big group of the starting players were playing for a chance to impress Ross and push closer to a regular place. It seems as if every time Grigg plays, there’s talk of ‘is this going to be the game where he kicks on.’ This is a competition he’s performed very well in the past and against top opposition, with the likes of Wigan and MK Dons he's scored against Man City and United.
Burnley’s 11 were mostly fringe players with a very familiar name in Phil Bardsley starting at right-back against his old side. Sean Dyche’s men have started the season well and are sat in sixth place in the Premier League.
For both teams the Carabao Cup wasn’t exactly the priority with both teams concentrating on their respective league seasons.
Burnley had the first opening as Dwight McNeil drove at the Sunderland defence, but his effort drifted wide of Burge’s goal.
Sunderland had started the game well and in the opening ten minutes, it was impressive stuff against much better opposition, Embleton and Lynden Gooch were getting involved early as Sunderland looked to impose themselves on the game.
Despite looking promising early on, Burnley took the lead as Jay Rodriguez scored the opening goal, McGeouch lost the ball in midfield Matej Vydra broke and played it to his partner up top Rodriguez who tucked it home.
The goal had settled Burnley down and looked much the stronger side, they were passing it about well and Sunderland were struggling to get on the ball.
Somehow Burnley weren’t two up as Aaron Lennon’s shot cannoned off the post and Vydra’s shot on the rebound hit the other post.
At the other end Sunderland broke down the left and Denver Hume’s ball just evaded Dobson who couldn’t make the contact to finish past Joe Hart - a big chance missed.
With goals against Premier League opposition in previous years in the past, Will Grigg was at it again, he did well to pounce on a deflected pass and did brilliantly to calmly finish past Hart into the top left corner.
The lads were ending the half well and were showing the Premier League side they were no pushovers.
With the first chance of the second half, Sunderland took the lead! From a short corner, Gooch drove a great low effort to Hart’s right, and parried it to Tom Flanagan of all people who nodded it home.
Incredibly, three minutes later, from another short corner - Sunderland made it 3-1! O’Nien on the by-line he played it back to Dobson who slotted it away from the edge of the box – a fine finish.
Just a little reminder that this is League One Sunderland who were THREE - ONE up against Premier League Burnley.
Regardless, of how the game was going to play out, scoring three goals against Burnley is incredibly good. What makes it even more ridiculous that it wasn’t even Sunderland’s strongest 11! While it’s not Burnley’s, it’s still a brilliant effort from the lads.
Burnley weren’t going to go away without a fight and Burge was called into action as he made a brilliant save to deny Kevin Long from getting the hosts back in the game.
With Burnley looking to get back in the game they brought on Chris Wood and their big striker almost made an instant impact, but his shot was blocked brilliantly by Baldwin.
With 15 minutes left to play, the home side were putting more and more pressure on the lads with Wood making an impact from the bench.
Grigg was replaced by Charlie Wyke and got a deserved round of applause from the travelling fans for getting his first goal since April.
Ross will have been so pleased with the effort of his players, off the ball Sunderland were excellent and were not making it easy for Burnley to get back into the game.
The biggest compliment that can be given to the team is that they looked comfortable against Burnley with less than five minutes left to play.
Full Time: Burnley 1-3 Sunderland
ALS Man of the Match: George Dobson