Debutant El Hadji Ba struck a late goal as Premier League strugglers Sunderland saw off lowly Carlisle to progress to the FA Cup fourth round.

After an even opening, winger Adam Johnson swung in an excellent first-half free-kick to put the hosts ahead.

The League One side held their own and levelled soon after when Matty Robson hammered in off the crossbar.

Sean O'Hanlon sliced into his own net after the break and Ba slid home a Jozy Altidore lay off to seal the win.

History fails to repeat

The two teams met at the same stage of the FA Cup in 1995, with a 1-1 draw in Sunderland being followed by a 3-1 win for the Black Cats in Carlisle

Sunderland sit bottom of the Premier League but faced opponents who were beaten 2-1 by Crewe on New Year's Day, in a result which saw Carlisle fall to 16th in the League One table.

There was no sign of the sizeable gap between them in the early stages, as boss Graham Kavanagh saw his side impress upon his return to the club he won the Championship with in 2007 as a player.

Sunderland finally showed some of their superior class when the lively Johnson played striker Altidore clean-through with a smart pass.

The United States international has struggled for goals since his £6.5m summer move and this lack of confidence was evident as his weak shot was saved by Greg Fleming.

Sunderland's superior quality finally told when Johnson curled a superb free-kick into the top corner past the half-hour mark for his third strike of the season.

Only Fulham have conceded more top-flight goals this term than Gus Poyet's side though, and the visitors got the equaliser their play deserved as the Sunderland defence failed to deal with a David Amoo cross and Robson fired in.

Carlisle offered a gift of their own at the start of the second half as the hosts went ahead in fortuitous circumstances as the hapless O'Hanlon deflected Johnson's volleyed-centre into his own goal.

Poyet then gave youngster Duncan Watmore his first-team bow, and was almost immediately rewarded with a goal as the ex-Altrincham striker forced a good stop from Fleming after a neat one-two with Altidore.

The American fluffed a pair of good late chances to get his third goal of the season, but fed the on-rushing Ba to seal a fourth-round tie against Peterborough or Kidderminster.

Sunderland manager Gus Poyet said: "We are going to become a cup team. It was a professional performance today. We needed to do the job.

"It's never easy. You need to cope with a few situations and a few shots, but in the end you need to be better, so job done."

Carlisle boss Graham Kavanagh said: "It's so exciting for a club like ourselves to come to a stadium as big as this with a fan-base as big as it is.

"The romance of the cup has always been, and will always be, fantastic - I hope we don't lose that."

Check out a photo gallery from all of today's FA Cup fixtures on the BBC Sport Facebook page. 

Lineup, Bookings (1) & Substitutions (6)

Sunderland

  • 25 Mannone
  • 08 Gardner
  • 03 Dossena
  • 07 Larsson (Ba - 80' )
  • 05 Brown
  • 04 Ki Sung-yueng (Bardsley - 63' )
  • 11 Johnson
  • 12 Celustka
  • 17 Altidore
  • 27 Ji Dong-won (Watmore - 63' )
  • 14 Colback

Substitutes

  • 02 Bardsley
  • 09 Fletcher
  • 13 Pickford
  • 22 Ba
  • 23 Giaccherini
  • 31 Borini
  • 41 Watmore

Carlisle United

  • 20 Fleming
  • 06 Buaben
  • 03 Robson
  • 28 Ehmer
  • 23 O'Hanlon Booked
  • 16 Potts
  • 21 Berrett
  • 08 Noble (Symington - 70' )
  • 07 Amoo
  • 29 Guy (Miller - 69' )
  • 33 Lawrence (Townsend - 83' )

Substitutes

  • 02 Townsend
  • 09 Miller
  • 17 Beck
  • 19 Symington
  • 22 Brass
  • 30 Meppen-Walter
  • 39 Chimbonda
Ref: Neil Swarbrick
Att: 21,973

Match Stats

Shots

11 5

On target

5 3

Corners

9 4

Fouls

13 13

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Sunderland 3, Carlisle United 1.

90:00 +4:06 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Sunderland 3, Carlisle United 1.

90:00 +1:32

Foul by Wes Brown (Sunderland).

90:00 +1:32

Lee Miller (Carlisle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

90:00 +1:22

Foul by Jozy Altidore (Sunderland).

90:00 +1:22

Max Ehmer (Carlisle United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

89:23 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Sunderland 3, Carlisle United 1. El-Hadji Ba (Sunderland) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Jozy Altidore.

83:43

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Sean O'Hanlon.

82:49

Wes Brown (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

82:49

Foul by David Amoo (Carlisle United).

82:28 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Carlisle United. Conor Townsend replaces Tom Lawrence.

82:15

Attempt missed. Duncan Watmore (Sunderland) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is close, but misses to the left.

80:24

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Matty Robson.

79:48 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Sunderland. El-Hadji Ba replaces Sebastian Larsson.

79:28

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Brad Potts.

75:25

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Matty Robson.

71:30

Foul by Jozy Altidore (Sunderland).

71:30

Max Ehmer (Carlisle United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

69:34 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Carlisle United. David Symington replaces Liam Noble.

68:53 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Carlisle United. Lee Miller replaces Lewis Guy.

67:15

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Greg Fleming.

67:07

Attempt saved. Duncan Watmore (Sunderland) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

63:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Sunderland. Duncan Watmore replaces Ji Dong-Won.

62:54 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Sunderland. Phillip Bardsley replaces Ki Sung-Yueng.

61:11

Foul by Liam Noble (Carlisle United).

61:11

Sebastian Larsson (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

60:32

Foul by Lewis Guy (Carlisle United).

60:32

Wes Brown (Sunderland) wins a free kick on the right wing.

53:48

James Berrett (Carlisle United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

53:48

Foul by Craig Gardner (Sunderland).

51:47

Attempt missed. Sean O'Hanlon (Carlisle United) header from the centre of the box misses to the left.

51:17

David Amoo (Carlisle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

51:17

Foul by Craig Gardner (Sunderland).

49:54 Goal scored

Goal! Own Goal by Sean O'Hanlon, Carlisle United. Sunderland 2, Carlisle United 1.

48:00

Adam Johnson (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

47:59

Foul by Brad Potts (Carlisle United).

47:05

Corner, Carlisle United. Conceded by Ondrej Celustka.

46:52

Lewis Guy (Carlisle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

46:52

Foul by Ki Sung-Yueng (Sunderland).

45:00

Second Half begins Sunderland 1, Carlisle United 1.

45:00 +2:04 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Sunderland 1, Carlisle United 1.

45:00 +1:50

Attempt saved. James Berrett (Carlisle United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

45:00 +1:30

Attempt blocked. Craig Gardner (Sunderland) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

45:00 +0:25

Foul by Lewis Guy (Carlisle United).

45:00 +0:25

Jack Colback (Sunderland) wins a free kick on the left wing.

44:46

Prince Buaben (Carlisle United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

44:46

Foul by Ondrej Celustka (Sunderland).

42:25 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Sunderland 1, Carlisle United 1. Matty Robson (Carlisle United) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by David Amoo.

41:38

Foul by Andrea Dossena (Sunderland).

41:38

Lewis Guy (Carlisle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

39:12

Foul by Andrea Dossena (Sunderland).

39:12

David Amoo (Carlisle United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

37:52

Ki Sung-Yueng (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

37:52

Foul by James Berrett (Carlisle United).

36:31

Corner, Carlisle United. Conceded by Ondrej Celustka.

35:04

Jozy Altidore (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

35:04

Foul by Brad Potts (Carlisle United).

33:03 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Sunderland 1, Carlisle United 0. Adam Johnson (Sunderland) from a free kick with a left footed shot to the top right corner.

32:04

Foul by David Amoo (Carlisle United).

32:04

Craig Gardner (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

31:41

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Matty Robson.

28:26 Booking

Booking Sean O'Hanlon (Carlisle United) is shown the yellow card.

28:22

Foul by Sean O'Hanlon (Carlisle United).

28:22

Jozy Altidore (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

27:40

Attempt missed. Jozy Altidore (Sunderland) right footed shot from very close range is close, but misses to the left.

26:43

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Greg Fleming.

26:38

Attempt saved. Craig Gardner (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

25:12

Attempt blocked. Jozy Altidore (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

24:18

Attempt missed. Matty Robson (Carlisle United) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

22:12

Corner, Carlisle United. Conceded by Vito Mannone.

22:01

Attempt saved. David Amoo (Carlisle United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

20:33

Foul by Ji Dong-Won (Sunderland).

20:33

Brad Potts (Carlisle United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

20:01

Foul by Matty Robson (Carlisle United).

20:01

Adam Johnson (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

19:25

Attempt missed. Craig Gardner (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

18:44

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Sean O'Hanlon.

17:49

Foul by Brad Potts (Carlisle United).

17:49

Craig Gardner (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

17:00

Attempt saved. Jozy Altidore (Sunderland) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

16:08

Hand ball by Sebastian Larsson (Sunderland).

14:16

Attempt missed. Ondrej Celustka (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

13:33

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Brad Potts.

11:04

Foul by Lewis Guy (Carlisle United).

11:04

Wes Brown (Sunderland) wins a free kick on the left wing.

10:20

James Berrett (Carlisle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

10:20

Foul by Ji Dong-Won (Sunderland).

8:49

Tom Lawrence (Carlisle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

8:49

Foul by Wes Brown (Sunderland).

8:18

Hand ball by Tom Lawrence (Carlisle United).

2:55

Corner, Carlisle United. Conceded by Andrea Dossena.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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