Jermain Defoe hits hat-trick as Sunderland win goal-feast
Jermain Defoe scored a hat-trick to steer kamikaze Sunderland past League Two Exeter in a Capital One Cup goal-feast at the Stadium of Light.
Defoe struck twice in the first half and rounded off a 6-3 win three minutes from time but only after Paul Tisdale's enterprising visitors had twice clawed back to level the tie.
Jack Rodwell also helped himself to a brace for the Black Cats but boss Dick Advocaat will be concerned with the three defensive howlers which had allowed the visitors to go in level at the break.
The Dutchman had made only two enforced changes in a bid to instil a winning mentality into his side following their poor start in the Barclays Premier League with Jeremain Lens and Billy Jones ruled out through injury.
It all seemed to be going to plan as Rodwell followed up after Danny Graham's initial effort had been blocked to put the hosts in front after 12 minutes.
And seven minutes later a straightforward night seemed on the cards for Advocaat's men as Defoe latched onto a through-ball from Seb Larsson and chipped Exeter goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik to extend the hosts' lead.
But Advocaat's men almost proved the architects of their own demise with Graham spurning a golden chance to make it 3-0 before awful defending allowed Emmanuel Oyeleke to reduce the deficit.
And the visitors were deservedly level just past the half-hour mark when Lee Holmes crossed from the left and David Wheeler out-jumped a static John O'Shea to head past Costel Pantilimon.
Defoe drove home his second seven minutes later, but a bizarre half of football was not yet finished as another Holmes cross was headed down by Wheeler and Tom McCready pounced to make it 3-3 at the break.
Sunderland's woes increased when Steven Fletcher lasted just four minutes after replacing Graham at the break before being injured himself.
But Rodwell was on hand to calm home nerves when he rose highest to nod home an inch-perfect Larsson corner in the 64th minute and make it 4-3.
Fletcher's replacement Duncan Watmore marked another impressive display when he caught out Olejnik to effectively put the game beyond Exeter's reach with Sunderland's fifth 12 minutes from time.
And Defoe, who at times in the first half had seemed the only thing separating his side from more upset, crowned a fine individual display by converting Larsson's cross three minutes from time.