Sunderland Under-23s saw their unbeaten Premier League 2 record disappear as impressive Manchester City ran out 4-2 winners at the Stadium of Light yesterday.
Victory, City’s third in five games this term, took themabove Sunderland into pole position at the top of Division One, on goal difference.
Sunderland, who gave fit-again right-back Billy Jones an hour’s run-out as he battles back into first-team contention,
City were the brighter side from the off and they made the breakthrough on 18 minutes, the impressive Paolo Fernandes firing past keeper Max Stryjek from 25 yards, with his fierce effort nestling in the top corner of the net.
Sunderland created a couple of half-chances, witj Josh Maja forcing keeper Billy O’Brien into a smart save, but City doubled their lead with another cracking strike from distance by Fernandes, with the outside of his boot.
Stryjek made a fine stop to deny City’s Angelino Tasende a third, then needed Tommy Robson to save the day with determined defending as the visitors continued to shine.
Winger Rees Greenwood, who was busy throughout and gave City’s defence plenty to think about, gave Sunderland hope by pulling one goal back just after the hour, driving his shot into the bottom corner of the net after troubling defender Pablo Maffoe.
But Greenwood was to turn villain soon after, foulding Lukas Nmecha inside the box to concede a penalty which Nmecha converted, sending Stryjek the wrong way.
Sunderland kept fighting, to their credit, and Elliot Embleton chanced his arm with a speculative strike from 22 yards which was misjudged by the keeper and got the home side back to 3-2 down.
City, though, deservedly wrapped up the points when sub Nmecha secured his second goal, nodding home in added time.
Sunderland are back in action at Liverpool on Sunday.
Sunderland U23s: Stryjek, Jones, (J Robson 62) T Robson, Beadling (Wright 76), Ledger, Brady, Embleton, E Robson, Greenwood, Honeyman, Maja (Nelson 59). Subs not used: Pain, Lawson
Manchester City U23s: O’Brien, Maffeo, Humphreys, Adarabioyo, Tasende, Horsfield, Fernandes (Diallo 87), Kongolo, Buckley-Ricketts (Nmecha 70), Diaz, Nemane. Subs not used: Oliver, Haug, Dilrosun