Roque Santa Cruz took just two minutes to announce his return in style as Blackburn beat Sunderland 2-1 to make the Carling Cup quarter-finals.
The striker headed Rovers in front with 65 minutes following Martin Olsson's cross just two minutes after replacing Andy Howarth.
Blackburn then saw Phil Bardsley put through his own goal five minutes later.
But Kenwyne Jones, a surprise inclusion after he was sent to see a specialist over his knee injury just on Tuesday, gave the home side hope with his first goal of the season seconds later when he drilled a shot past Paul Robinson.
But the visitors saw the game out to condemn the Wearsiders to a fourth successive defeat in front of a crowd of just 18,555.
It was Blackburn's first win in seven matches and was all the more impressive given their side featured seven changes from the weekend.