MARC MUNIESA’S double sent last season’s finalists Sunderland crashing out of the Capital One Cup after a Stadium of Light comeback from Stoke City.
Jozy Altidore’s first goal since December looked to have put Sunderland on course for the fourth round of the competition, but visitors Stoke had other ideas.
Former Barcelona man Muniesa took advantage of some poor Sunderland defending to smash home a deserved first half equaliser for the Potters.
Will Buckley was twice denied by saves from Jack Butland after the break, but after Sunderland’s appeals for a foul on Adam Johnson were waved away, Muniesa smashed home a second to eliminate Gus Poyet’s side.
On-loan Liverpool centre-half Sebastian Coates made his Sunderland debut, as one of seven changes to the starting line-up.
Costel Pantilimon, Billy Jones, Liam Bridcutt, Jordi Gomez, Jozy Altidore and Will Buckley were all introduced, with Vito Mannone, Patrick van Aanholt, Lee Cattermole, Seb Larsson, Connor Wickham and Emanuele Giaccherini left out.
Former Sunderland defender Phil Bardsley started for Stoke, as one of six changes for the Potters.
Sunderland had a sniff within the first 45 seconds when Jones’ inswinging cross from the left just evaded Altidore at the far post.
Moments later, Oussama Assidi surged inside from the left at the other end and hit an awkward right-footed shot from the edge of the area which Pantilimon got his body behind.
Jack Rodwell was a whisker away to the opener in the fifth minute when Santiago Vergini’s glancing header sent Buckley away down the right.
The former Brighton man picked out Rodwell with his pull-back, whose first-time right-footed shot just cleared the bar.
Sunderland did break the deadlock in the 16th minute after Adam Johnson picked out Jones with a delicately weighted cross.
Jones, on the edge of the area, managed to bring it under control before squaring it to Altidore, who found the bottom corner with a right-footed shot on the turn.
But the Potters pulled level in the 31st minute after a sustained spell of passing culminated in Assaidi squaring the ball to Marc Muniesa, just inside the area.
Muniesa had far too much room and was able to build up a head of steam to burst beyond John O’Shea, before powering a shot past Pantilimon.
Adam Johnson almost regained the lead three minutes later when his left-footed free-kick, from the right of goal, was tipped away by Butland.
Seconds later, Stoke should have gone ahead on the counter-attack after Bardsley squared the ball to Assaidi, who blazed wide from 12 yards with the goal at his mercy.
Stoke midfielder Steven N’Zonzi was fortunate to remain on the pitch in the 37th minute after reacting to a poorly-timed late tackle from Rodwell.
N’Zonzi grabbed Rodwell by the throat in retaliation, but referee Mike Dean opted to just issue a yellow card to the pair.
The former Blackburn man almost made the most of that leniency a minute before the interval when he sent a low right-footed shot just wide from 25 yards.
HALF-TIME Sunderland 1 Stoke 1
Poyet made a change at the interval, with Patrick van Aanholt replacing Coates - a switch which saw Jones move to right-back and Santiago Vergini partner O’Shea at centre-half.
Butland produced a smart save to deny Buckley in the 62nd minute after Jordi Gomez had lifted an inviting left-footed cross into the area.
The ball fell to Buckley, on the volley, eight yards out, but his left-footed effort was tipped away low to his left by the Stoke keeper.
Buckley was denied again in the 68th minute when he got away down the left-hand channel of the area, but his shot across goal was pushed away by Butland.
But against the run of play, it was Stoke who went ahead three minutes later after Pantilimon could only punch Charlie Adam’s corner clear as far as Johnson, just inside the area.
Sunderland appealed that Johnson was nudged from behind by Muniesa, but referee Dean waved play on and the left-back smashed a shot past Pantilimon at his near post.
Marko Arnautovic had a chance to seal the victory in the 81st minute when he was picked out by Muniesa’s pin-point cross from the left.
Arnautovic, unmarked at the back post, met it flush on the volley, but sent his effort high and wide.
Stoke substitute Victor Moses almost added a third in stoppage time when he span away from O’Shea to go clean through on goal, but Pantilimon took the ball away from his feet as he tried to go around the keeper.
FULL-TIME Sunderland 1 Stoke 2
SUNDERLAND: Pantilimon, Vergini, O’Shea, Coates (van Aanholt 46), Jones, Bridcutt, Rodwell (Alvarez 76), Gomez, Buckley, Johnson (Graham 88), Altidore. Subs not used: Mannone, Cattermole, Larsson, Mavrias. Booked: Rodwell (37), O’Shea (90), Altidore (90), Bridcutt (90)
STOKE: Butland, Bardsley, Huth, Shawcross, Muniesa, Ireland, N’Zonzi, Adam, Arnautovic (Moses 85), Assaidi (Crouch 87), Diouf. Subs not used: Sorensen, Pieters, Sidwell, Bojan, Wilkinson. Booked: N’Zonzi (37), Arnautovic (63), Huth (90)