Despite Pompey’s best efforts to score Sunderland’s defence ultimately proved too solid to breach
Sunderland took a giant step in their bid to return to the Championship as they saw off Portsmouth to reach the League One play-off final in a heated stalemate at Fratton Park.
Following a goalless and fractious encounter, Chris Maguire’s volley in the first-leg was ultimately enough to see Sunderland get to Wembley.
The Black Cats got their revenge for their painful Checkatrade Trophy defeat to Pompey back in March, where they cruelly lost to the south coast outfit on penalties.
Two fine stops from keeper John McLaughlin in either half from headers by Gareth Evans and Jamie Vaughan, as well as a header from Matt Clarke hitting the woodwork, was the closest Portsmouth came to levelling the tie.
Jack Ross’s side will now meet either Charlton Athletic or Doncaster Rover in the final at Wembley, with the Addicks leading 2-1 going into Friday’s return leg.
Portsmouth will stay in League One for a third consecutive season, having now failed to gain promotion in their last six attempts.
The match was extremely feisty throughout and followed a similar pattern to the first leg, with few clear-cut chances for either side.
At one point, frustrations boiled over in the crowd as a fan appeared to kick out at Sunderland defender Luke O’Nien.
O’Nien and Portsmouth defender Tom Naylor tussled on the sideline before the Black Cats full-back was forced over the edge of the advertising hoardings.
While O’Nien lay on the ground, a fan in the crowd wearing a grey jumper twice appeared to kick the 24-year-old before seemingly then swinging a punch.
But Sunderland clung on and manager Ross has now taken the Mackems to Wembley twice in his first season in charge of the club.