Match Report: Sunderland 2-1 Southampton - Seb Seals Quarters Date

Richard Sellers

Seb Larsson's second goal became decisive rather than just the icing on the cake as Sunderland triumphed over Southampton with a 2-1 victory.

Chances were few and far between in the opening ten minutes of the game at the Stadium of Light, however the majority of them fell to Southampton.

Two chances barely even quarter-chances fell to Japanese striker Tadanari Lee. First of all latching onto a Calum Chambers cross to slide the ball wide under pressure from John O'Shea, whilst a few minutes later he lashed well, well over Vito Mannone's crossbar.

The early signs were that this was looking like being 'the most Poyet' performance of his tenure so far, with players more than happy to pass the ball among themselves 5-yards here and there with little urgency. This however did create a chance for the visitors when Phil Bardsley and John O'Shea couldn't quite work out what they were supposed to do. Luckily from the resulting corner Jay Rodriguez put the ball well over from close range.

Sunderland did manage to fashion a chance after 11-minutes though, and probably the best one of the lot to this point when Jozy Altidore used some superb strength to out-muscle a defender and create a free shot at goal. The finish however resembled something more of a pass-back for Kelvin Davis and even he managed to pick it up with ease.

It was Sunderland who'd create the next chance of the game, and it was another good one. Ondrej Celustka escaped down the right hand side and crossed low for an unmarked Emanuele Giaccherini, who got his footing all wrong and fumbled the ball wide.

Southampton certainly used the ball more effectively and pushed it about with more purpose but perhaps the home side who could feel as though they should be in front having created the more clear-cut of the chances.

The first half was for long spells, a bit of a struggle for everyone concerned. On the pitch Sunderland looked lethargic. I appreciate it's a change of style, but there was very little zip or seemingly invention. More passing about for the sake of it as that's what they'd been told to do.

The chances were far from flowing. Altidore managed to create something for himself when he lashed low and wide from outside the area, while Jack Colback did the same following a poorly cleared corner a few moments later.

Certainly 35-minutes on the clock felt more like 35-hours with both teams seemingly waiting for the other to make a mistake, but until then cancelling each other out.

Things continued at this languid pace through to the cusp of half-time when the visitors fashioned what was the best chance of the half by a country mile.

Following a corner, the pressure remained in and around the Sunderland area. Jack Cork held onto the ball well and picked out an unmarked, and I mean completely unmarked, Gaston Ramirez eight or so yards from goal. The Uruguayan somehow side-footed over the bar when he really should have scored.

The second half started where we'd left off in the first half, with plenty of slow and 'patient' build up from both teams but both unable to craft anything of note. Craig Gardner was denied a good chance when he was teed up by Altidore inside the area, while at the other end Steven Davis and Jay Rodriguez tried their luck from distance with little-to-no threat for Vito Mannone.

Eventually a breakthrough, and indeed creativity to boot as training ground freekick routine paid off with Phil Bardsley bumbling the ball home to make it 1-0 to Sunderland.

Adam Johnson took a freekick out wide which was stood up to the back post where Wes Brown had peeled away from a marker to head back across the face of goal. Altidore attacked and saw it repelled, but only as far as Bardsley who forced the ball just over the line.

Following that Sunderland settled back into their rhythm of playing patiently and trying to maintain possession, but the visitors had some claims for penalties. Both of which fell on deaf ears to Lee Mason.

The first was an outside chance of being one. Colback tussling with Chambers inside the area although in my eyes both were grabbing at each other. The second was certainly nowhere near being one and was actually a superb tackle from Wes Brown, despite the protestations of Steven Davis.

Sunderland did manage to come off the worst though as during the first appeal, somehow Ondrej Celustka injured himself and was replaced by Seb Larsson, forcing a rejig of the midfield and defence.

Hearts were in mouths with just over 20-minutes to go when Vito Mannone cleared the ball as far as Jay Rodriguez' back and it only went a yard or two wide of the post.

The game was seemingly put to rest when Seb Larsson grabbed a second goal for Sunderland with 85-minutes played.

Jozy Altidore got himself on the end of a loose ball and headed towards goal. Shaping to shoot, the American -- who had a reasonable game -- instead played in an overlapping Seb Larsson to roll the ball into the bottom corner.

As things transpired though the cigars were brought out too early as within seconds it was 2-1.

A goal not unlike our first where a freekick was lumped to the back post, headed back across by Jos Hooiveld and nodded in from close range by his defensive partner Maya Yoshida, and all of a sudden Sunderland were on the back foot.

When the whistle was blown though it was Sunderland who sealed a place in the Quarter Finals against Chelsea.

The new style of play Poyet is trying to bring in was quite evident from the get go,and while many fans, including myself, may find it a little slow and a little difficult to get on board with at the moment, you can't grumble too much with a win and being in the final eight of a cup competition.

A well executed game plan, and well played all round.

We'll have more reaction to this in our Match Stream. Check it out HERE.

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