Patrick Roberts’ stoppage-time strike earned Sunderland their place in the League One play-off final as a 1-1 draw at Hillsborough secured a 2-1 aggregate victory over Sheffield Wednesday.
Lee Gregory had put the hosts ahead on the night after 74 minutes, making it 1-1 overall and giving the Owls hope of reaching Wembley.
But Roberts scored in the third of 10 minutes’ injury time to condemn Darren Moore’s side to another season in the third tier and send the visiting fans wild.
Wednesday made a bright start, with Gregory having a shot blocked early on and Barry Bannan then slipping a neat ball into the box for Josh Windass, who saw an effort deflected wide after his initial strike was blocked.
Sunderland defender Danny Batth headed over after getting on the end of a free-kick, with Wednesday midfielder George Byers then trying an overhead kick which was straight at Black Cats goalkeeper Anthony Patterson as the first half ended goalless.
The visitors were the first to threaten in the second period when Jack Clarke fired wide from the edge of the area.
Clarke then made a good run before laying the ball off to Roberts, whose low shot was saved by Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
Roberts had a shot deflected wide as Sunderland continued to pose problems for the Wednesday defence.
Windass delivered a low cross aimed at Gregory but a defender got a vital touch to turn the ball to safety.
Sam Hutchinson had a header comfortably saved by Patterson before a clash of heads then saw the Wednesday man helped from the pitch, having received treatment, with Liam Palmer taking his place.
Another change for the home side soon followed, with Jack Hunt making way for Nathaniel Mendez-Laing.
Wednesday finally scored in the 74th minute to draw level on aggregate when Bannan released Marvin Johnson on the left and he sent over a low cross which was turned in by Gregory from close
Alex Pritchard fired wide as Sunderland looked to provide an instant response.
Just when it looked like the match was heading for extra time, the visitors silenced the home crowd with a stoppage-time leveller.
A ball over the top picked out Clarke on the left and he got to the byline before delivering a low cross which found Roberts, who lashed past Peackock-Farrell.
With time running out, Sunderland boss Alex Neil made a triple substitution, sending on Callum Doyle, Nathan Broadhead and Jay Matete.
The Owls never seriously threatened to score again in the 10 added minutes as Sunderland held on to book their place at Wembley, where they will face Wycombe on May 21.
Wednesday players sank to the ground after the final whistle was blown, while their opponents celebrated with the Sunderland fans who had made the trip to south Yorkshire.
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