GUS POYET branded Sunderland’s first half display as “rubbish” in the Capital One Cup victory at Birmingham.
But the Sunderland boss was glad to see his side improve sufficiently after the break to seal their progress into the third round with an 11-minute three goal blitz at St Andrew’s.
Last season’s cup finalists were well below par for large portions of last night’s encounter, with Poyet’s men struggling to both maintain possession and muster any attacking threat.
Yet after Jordi Gomez’s first goal for Sunderland broke the deadlock with 13 minutes to go, the Black Cats netted a further brace to book a Stadium of Light clash against Stoke City in the next round.
Gomez received the ball 25 yards out and rifled into the bottom corner for a great first goal since his summer move from Wigan.
Birmingham were unhappy though as they felt the ball had gone out deep in the Sunderland half during the build-up.
Clayton Donaldson wasted a fine chance to instantly level when he shot at Costel Pantilimon and David Edgar – son of ex-Hartlepool United keeper Eddie – shot over and the Blues were made to pay.
Sunderland sealed the game in the dying minutes.
Former Boro winger Adam Johnson fired in after Jozy Altidore’s shot was saved in the 87th minute, before Connor Wickham stroked in from 15 yards a minute later.
Poyet said: “It was a strange game.
“We played rubbish for 45 minutes, but finished the game on a high, high.
“We’ll try to take that into Saturday at QPR.
“The first half was poor technically again, which is a little bit worrying. We couldn’t pass the ball.
“Somehow we got to half-time at 0-0, but the second half was different.
“The same group of players got something at half-time which made them play much better, caring more about the ball and we were growing and growing into the game.
“That first goal was key to changing the game completely.”
Sunderland had a double let-off on the stroke of half-time, when Birmingham striker Wes Thomas fired just wide before team-mate David Cotterill hit the post.
But Poyet speculated that Sunderland’s Premier League class perhaps told in the end, with the floodgates opening after Gomez’s superb strike – Johnson and then Wickham both breaking their ducks for the season.
He added: “We gave two big chances to Birmingham and on another day we would have conceded. That didn’t happen and it was a little bit easier at the end.
“It’s not going to be perfect all the time.
“I was expecting a tough game and I went away thinking that what I was expecting was true.
“Maybe in the last 20 minutes, Premier League players are maybe better technically and physically in terms of understanding the game and that made a difference.
“But that’s the way the cup goes. Birmingham had to come back and equalise and that opened the game for us.”