Sunderland knocked out Premier League opposition yet again in the Carabao Cup with a brilliant performance at Bramall Lane.
The home side started the better, but it was Sunderland who took the lead with a Max Power goal in the first half. Sunderland managed to hold on in the second and defended resolutely.
Following Sunderland’s awful display against Bolton, last time out the lads travelled to Premier League Sheffield United to face Chris Wilder’s side. Jack Ross made several changes with Joel Lynch and Laurens de Bock making their debuts in defence. Fringe players such as Elliot Embleton, Dylan McGeouch and Lee Burge came into the side looking to prove themselves in the starting 11.
Sunderland heroically beat Burnley 3-1 at Turf Moor in the last round and would be looking to gain another scalp in the competition. The hosts made ten changes from their victory against Everton but still fielded a strong team.
The hosts as you would’ve expected started the better and forced Burge into a great stop early on. Callum Robinson's curling effort was well saved by Sunderland’s back up stopper. Moments later Burge was back in action as he prevented Luke Freeman’s effort.
Sunderland almost shot themselves in the foot as Tom Flanagan’s awful pass gifted the ball to Robinson and Flanagan’s blushes were spared as Burge came out and blocked the effort. It was a busy start for the former Coventry keeper.
From out of nothing Max Power’s strike gave Sunderland the lead with a brilliant effort from 25 yards out – his effort flew in past Simon Moore into the top corner. It was some goal from the former Wigan midfielder who opened his account for the season in some style.
The goal had given Sunderland a new lease of life and Embleton tried his luck from just outside the box an effort which needed saving from Moore. Charlie Wyke was waiting for the rebound, but it just avoided the big striker.
United almost scored an equaliser as Robinson’s low cross was inches away from Lys Mousset and the French striker couldn’t stretch enough to finish past Burge.
After 25 minutes of play, Ross will have been delighted with how things had gone, the lads were getting bodies forward in attack and defending well – it was clear to see Ross’ men weren’t afraid of their Premier League opponents.
On the break Sunderland should have made more of a good opening, Maguire did well to beat Muhamed Besic and released Max Power who took one too many touches as Richard Stearman dealt with the danger.
The difference between this performance and the display on Saturday against Bolton was both staggering and baffling – if only the lads could perform like this in League One.
The half time whistle blew and despite a poor start where Burge was called into action a few times Sunderland played brilliantly and would have been thrilled to go into the break with the lead.
The only real negative was that Embleton pulled up moments before the half time break and was replaced by Denver Hume who moved into the left-wing position.
Sunderland had the first chance of the half and were inches away from doubling the lead, Hume played a great ball into O’Nien who switched it onto his left foot and fired it against the near post.
Ross’ side had started the second half much the better side and were pressing and pushing for another goal.
With an hour played United were having most of the ball and upping the tempo but hadn’t tested Burge in the second half so far. Sunderland were defending very well to restrict the hosts to very little.
O’Nien attempted an outrageous overhead kick inside the box, but on the angle, it was never troubling Moore in goal.
Despite a lot of pressure from the hosts Burge hadn’t had a save to make in the second half with just over ten minutes of play left in the match.
Sunderland were defending brilliantly, and De Bock had a fine game at left back and firmly staked his place for a spot in the 11 against MK Dons on Saturday.
United came close to getting a leveller as Leon Clarke was through on goal, but his shot took a deflection and went wide of the goal.
The full-time whistle blew and sealed a fantastic win against a Sheffield United team who are tenth in the Premier League – what a night!
Full Time: Sheffield United 0-1 Sunderland
ALS Man of the Match: Luke O’Nien