Blackburn defeated Sunderland 2-1 in a League Cup tie on Wednesday, to reach the competition's quarter-finals. Roque Santa Cruz headed Rovers in front in the 65th minute before Phil Bardsley increased the visitors lead when he scored an own goal five minutes later at the Stadium of Light.
Kenwyne Jones gave the home side hope with his first goal of the season in the 71st minute, but Rovers had done enough to win for the first time in seven matches and condemn Sunderland to a fourth successive defeat.
The Black Cats were the better side during the opening 45 minutes but Roy Keane's side failed to make the most of their opportunities. Ince had chosen to make seven changes to his team, but that did not include first-choice keeper Paul Robinson, and the decision was justified.
Having already seen veteran midfielder Tugay block a goalbound Kieran Richardson shot, the England keeper tipped Danny Collins' header over on the half-hour to keep his side level. He needed the help of the crossbar two minutes later after Jones met Collins' cross with his head, and he was relieved to see Richardson sky a 37th-minute shot after Jones had once again made his presence felt inside the penalty area.
Sunderland started the second half in determined fashion with Jones sending a 48th-minute downward header just wide of Robinson's left post with the keeper scrambling across his line. Ince knew his side was in need of greater firepower, and he made his move with 27 minutes remaining when he withdrew debutant Andy Howarth and sent on the fit-again Santa Cruz. It took the Paraguayan little time to make his mark, running on to Samba's flick from Martin Olsson's cross to head past Marton Fulop.
It was 2-0 within five minutes when Fulop pushed Matt Derbyshire's cross on to Bardsley, who could do nothing as the ball cannoned off him and nestled in his own net. Keane immediately withdrew Steed Malbranque to send on Andy Reid, and his side were back in the game within seconds when Jones fired left-footed past Robinson.