ELLIS SHORT, Gus Poyet and Lee Congerton watched Sunderland Under-21s begin their campaign with a last-gasp defeat against Liverpool.
The Sunderland chairman, head coach and sporting director were all in the stands at Eppleton CW to watch the Black Cats youngsters in a game which only really came to life in the second half.
Liverpool winger Ryan McLaughlan grabbed the winner in the last minute, to inflict an opening game defeat on Robbie Stockdale’s Sunderland side.
Cabral was the biggest name in the Sunderland side, with the midfielder looking to attract potential employers after being told he is not part of Poyet’s plans.
The former Basel man produced a decent performance
Neither side were able to make any inroads during the opening half-hour - the closest to a meaningful effort on goal coming when Duncan Watmore skied a right-footed effort not so handsomely over the top from a Liam Agnew corner.
Midfielder Martin Smith then curled a free-kick a foot over the top from 25 yards.
Sunderland finally burst into life in the 37th minute when they produced a slick passing move that resulted in Carl Lawson freeing Andrew Cartwright down the right-hand side of the area.
Cartwright lifted the ball to the far post for Duncan Watmore, who sent his stabbed half-volley back across goal and wide.
Liverpool frontman Cameron Brannagan went close at the other end moments later when he fired a shot over the top from 12 yards.
Mikael Mandron went close in the 52nd minute when Cabral played him in down the right-hand side of the area and the striker fired in a low shot which Liverpool keeper Dan Ward turned behind at the near post.
Moments later, Liverpool striker Chris Peterson caught the Sunderland defence out, raced through on goal but saw his shot blocked well by the outstretched leg of Black Cats stopper Max Stryjek.
Watmore should have broken the deadlock in the 73rd minute when Cabral’s through-ball beat the Liverpool offside trap.
It left Watmore with just Ward to beat, but while his delicate chip left the keeper stranded, it drifted agonisingly wide of the far post.
With eight minutes to go, Stryjek produced an excellent full-length save to keep out a long-range effort from Liverpool winger Ryan McLaughlan, who had unleashed an angled drive from the left-hand side of the area.
Peterson should have secured maximum points at the death, but sent his left-footed shot well wide when he had time to pick his spot.
But Liverpool did grab a winner in the last minute when McLaughlan pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the area and managed to get a right-footed shot away which nestled in the bottom corner.
Watmore almost levelled in stoppage time, but saw his volley deflected just over the top.
SUNDERLAND: Stryjek, Cartwright, Ferguson, Cabral, McNamee, Harrison, Watmore, Agnew, Mandron, Smith (Gooch 65), Lawson. Subs not used: T Robson, Purvis, Ledger, E Robson. Booked: Agnew (83)
LIVERPOOL: Ward, Randall (Wilson 62), Stewart, Williams, Jones, Rossiter, McLaughlin, Lussey, Peterson, Brannagan (Yesil 71), Ojo (Maguire 80). Subs not used: Vigouroux, Trickett-Smith. Booked: Stewart (60)