Pompey will have to overcome a first leg deficit if they are to beat Sunderland and reach the League One play-off final.
Former Fratton loanee Chris Maguire came off the bench to net an impressive winner in a match that was otherwise short of a spark.
The Black Cats played the final quarter of the contest with just 10 men after Alim Ozturk was shown a straight red card.
Gareth Evans struck the woodwork from the resulting free-kick, but the Blues were unable to find an equaliser.
Kenny Jackett made three changes from the side that drew with Accrington on the final day of the regular campaign.
Jamal Lowe and Ronan Curtis were rested for that Fratton fixture, but returned to replace Viv Solomon-Otabor and Bryn Morris.
Lee Brown failed a fitness test on an Achilles injury, with Nathan Thompson coming back into the starting line-up as expected and Anton Walkes moving across to the left.
Skipper Brett Pitman was on the bench against Stanley, but missed out with a hamstring problem, so Evans retained the armband.
Pompey were not the only side to be suffering, however, and after picking up an injury in the warm-up, Aiden McGeady was swapped with Lynden Gooch.
There was not an abundance of quality on display once the action got underway, with both teams perhaps shackled by what was at stake.
The visitors enjoyed plenty of early possession, although Jon McLaughlin comfortably dealt with a couple of crosses into his box.
Evans did cut the ball back into the danger zone, where first Lowe and then Ben Close saw efforts blocked.
There was also an opening when Curtis advanced towards goal, although his strike from outside of the box was scuffed wide of the post.
Sunderland were also struggling to find their feet at the other end and a delivery from Gooch was nodded over by Charlie Wyke.
Wyke looked the most likely player to break the deadlock, with Walkes doing well to stop him from meeting Lewis Morgan’s centre.
Max Power soon sent the ball back into the area for the striker and this time he fired over the crossbar.
The Black Cats had one more opening before the break and Gooch finally had an attempt on target, although it was no bother for MacGillivray.
Half Time: Sunderland 0 Pompey 0
The entertainment value did not immediately increase once the action restarted, with niggly fouls at both ends interrupting the flow.
Evans did try to thread a precise pass through to the onrushing Lowe, but Tom Flanagan was able to cut the ball out.
And Flanagan was then involved at the other end of the pitch after collecting the ball from a corner, with Naylor flinging himself in the path of the shot.
A clear-cut opportunity was finally created just before the hour mark – and it was the Black Cats who came close to scoring.
Gooch whipped the ball into the box from wide on the left and George Honeyman’s header was brilliantly tipped over by MacGillivray.
And Sunderland were ahead just moments later and it came from a man who had only been on the pitch for a few minutes.
Bryan Oviedo swung in a teasing cross that Matt Clarke headed clear, but the ball fell for Maguire to fire home a fine volley from the edge of the box.
But the hosts were soon reduced to 10 men after Clarke released Evans, who was brought down just outside the area by Ozturk.
Referee Andy Woolmer reached into his pocked and pulled out a red card, leaving the defender to trudge from the pitch.
Jackett immediately made a double substitution, with Oli Hawkins and Curtis making way for Solomon-Otabor and Omar Bogle.
Evans then stepped up to take the free-kick and curled a brilliant effort against the bar, with the ball bouncing clear.
Another opportunity soon came from a corner, as Bogle’s close-range shot was diverted behind by a well-placed Luke O’Nien.
But the Blues were almost undone at the other end after losing possession, with Maguire’s low drive clipping the outside of the post.
Pompey were trying their best to find a leveller and after bundling his way into a shooting position, Bogle could not quite lift the ball over McLaughlin.
There was plenty of endeavour at both ends of the pitch as the seconds ticked down, but it is Sunderland who will head back to the south coast with a narrow advantage.
Sunderland (4-2-3-1): McLaughlin; O’Nien, Ozturk, Flanagan, Oviedo; Cattermole, Power; Gooch (Dunne 70), Honeyman (c), Morgan (Maguire 58); Wyke
Goals: Maguire 62
Sent off: Ozturk
Subs not used: Ruiter, Matthews, Hume, Leadbitter, Grigg
Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray; Thompson, Burgess, Clarke, Walkes; Naylor, Close; Lowe, Evans (c), Curtis (Bogle 69); Hawkins (Solomon-Otabor 69)
Subs not used: Bass, May, Cannon, Morris, Dennis
Referee: Andy Woolmer
Attendance: 26,610 (1,288 Pompey fans)