Premier League side Sunderland started life after Paulo Di Canio with a comfortable 2-0 win over Peterborough United, who lost the services of Lee Tomlin early on to injury.
Danny Swanson had the first effort of the evening but his skidding effort was parried by goalkeeper Westwood. Larsson sent a shot wide of the target at the other end as the open nature of the first half continued.
Yueng was booked for hacking down Tomlin on seven minutes. The forward was replaced by Joe Newell after failing to recover from the tackle.
Bostwick fired the resulting set-piece wide of the target. Gardner headed wide for the hosts following their fourth corner in quick succession.
Giaccherini fired wide of the near post after a good dummy from Altidore as Sunderland continued to press for the breakthrough. The Italian somehow missed from two-yards moments later after a clever low centre from Johnson.
Altidore guided an effort over the bar from close-range before Posh centre back Zakuani went down for treatment after clashing with the big striker.
On 32 minutes, the deadlock was broken and it had been coming in truth in terms of the possession the hosts were enjoying. A cross from the right was met by GIACCHERINI who guided the ball past Olejnik from close-range. It was always going to be an Italian who got the breakthrough in the first match since Paulo Di Canio's departure.
Swanson saw a long-range drive go over the top on 39 minutes after a good pass from Ntlhe saw Posh progress down the right hand side.
On the stroke of half-time, the imposing figure of Altidore saw a skidding low drive strike the outside of the post as Sunderland came inches away from a second goal.
Johnson curled a shot a whisker wide on 52 minutes as Payne sustained an injury following a block tackle. Thankfully for Darren Ferguson, he was soon back on his feet following treatment and into the fray.
Zakuani produced a fine last ditch tackle to stop Johnson getting a shot in on goal after a good ball from Cattermole on 63 minutes. Assombalonga had his first shot of the evening moments later, but his low drive was comfortable for Westwood.
It was 2-0 on 71 minutes as a cross from Johnson was met by substitute Valentin ROBERGE who planted a looping header past Olejnik and into the back of the net to secure Sunderland's passage into the fourth round.
Barnett headed a Ntlhe cross wide of the target on 85 minutes as the cup tie petered out. Olejnik denied Larsson's free-kick on 88 minutes.
Final Score: Sunderland 2-0 Posh
Sunderland: Westwood, Yueng, Larsson, Gardner, Colback, O'Shea (sub Roberge 60min), Johnson, Altidore (sub Wickham 84min), Giaccherini (sub Borini 81min), Cuellar, Cattermole. Unused subs: Mannone, Cabral, Ba, Mavrias.
Posh: Olejnik, Alcock, Ntlhe, Bostwick, Zakuani, Rowe (sub McCann 64min), Payne (sub Mendez-Laing 75min), Swanson, Barnett, Assombalonga, Tomlin (sub Newell 11min). Unused subs: Day, Brisley, Gordon, Ferdinand.
Attendance: 18,126 (529 Posh fans)