Sunderland took a slender lead in their Sky Bet Championship play-off semi-final with Luton after a 2-1 first-leg win on Saturday evening.
Elijah Adebayo had fired Luton into an early lead at the Stadium of Light, but Sunderland turned the tie in their favour thanks to a stunning Amad Diallo free-kick, and a second-half winner from Trai Hume.
It gave the Black Cats the edge, but it is still all to play for in the second leg at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday night.
Sunderland hit back to get ahead
Sunderland dominated the early stages in front of a raucous crowd, but Luton took advantage of their physicality on 11 minutes as Adebayo pounced on a bouncing ball at a corner to fire them in front after the home side had failed to clear.
On 39 minutes, Sunderland were level. And it was stunning from Diallo, who whipped a free-kick into the top corner after Alex Pritchard had rolled the ball into his path.
The turnaround was complete after 62 minutes. Jack Clarke’s cross found the head of Hume, who guided a header into the bottom corner.
Mowbray heaps praise on fans
Sunderland manager Tony Mowbray:
“I think the fans enjoyed the day. It’s our last game of the season at home and they seemed to e joy it. They understand what the team is. Football supporters can see what their team is, they knew we would be vulnerable from set-plays, but we found a way to get the job done over 90 minutes.
“I think we deserved it. I’m not sure of the stats and the data, but once you get the fans on board, it was a younger team and the fans were amazing. They are hard to play against. It’s half a job done.”
Edwards: We’re still in the tie
Luton manager Rob Edwards:
“The atmosphere was fantastic. All credit to Sunderland, they are a brilliant club with a great following, and I thought it was a really good game.
“I thought we had a lot of the first half. But they scored a worldie goal to equalise. At half-time I was delighted with the boys. Second half I knew they would come at us, and we weren’t good enough with the ball.
“We didn’t create too much, but we’re disappointed to concede from a set-piece. But it’s still half-time and we’re right in the tie.”
Player of the Match – Trai Hume
Andy Hinchcliffe on Sky Sports Football:
“He scored the goal but his defensive work, which he is in the side for, he has got most things right up against Elijah Adebayo and Carlton Morris.”
The second leg will be played at Luton’s Kenilworth Road home at 8pm on Tuesday May 16, live on Sky Sports Football.
There, the teams will battle it out for a place in the Sky Bet League Championship play-off final, which will take place at Wembley Stadium at 4.45pm on Saturday May 27.