Lee Johnson reacts to Manchester United U21s win and explains what pleased him most about Sunderland performance
Lee Johnson says Sunderland's identity is beginning to show after a youthful side beat Manchester United U21s on Tuesday night.
Johnson handed out seven debuts over the course of the evening, with Denver Hume the only senior player involved.
Tyrese Dyce and Stephen Wearne were on the scoresheet to secure the 2-1 win, after Zidane Iqbal's stunning effort briefly levelled the scores early in the second half.
Johnson hailed his young side for their pressing intensity, and says it's a sign of the club's philosophy spreading through the age groups.
The win also secured Sunderland' s progression to the knockout rounds with one game to play next month.
"I think it's really important that we show the fans we're not just working at the top end of the pyramid," Johnson said.
"The first team is the tip of the iceberg, we're working all the way down and I think you saw that tonight.
"Manchester United have quality players all through the age groups but I thought we pressed like a Sunderland team tonight.
"We could had any shirt on but you'd have known it was Sunderland if you've been watching our teams.
"That's credit to the coaching and the players for the way they're retaining the information.
"I think we're starting to get that identity and so for me the win is just the cherry on the cake.
"We deserved it, we really did," Johnson added.
We had good chances, and maybe just lacked a little bit of quality in the first half.
"Jevo [Phil Jevons] made a good point at half time that we needed to fill certain areas of the box, and that led to the winner with Wearney attacking the penalty spot.
"I think a lot of people at the club will take a lot of pride in that, because they've worked with these lads for years.
"The results in this time weren't great a couple of years back so it's a lot of credit to anyone.
"This is a great reward for the lads who have come off buzzing, and they really appreciated the support from the fans."
Johnson said the performances over the last week have shown that there is significant talent in the club's academy.
"There's quality in this club and it's just about having that clarity so they can bring it out," he said.
"Once you have that you can be free in your play and bring your selling points to the game.
"Harrison Sohna was outstanding in midfield, Tyrese Dyce got his goal.
"Young Tom Scott did well given his age and how much ground he had to cover, the two centre-backs were strong.
"Both full backs, we expect it from Denver but returning from injury showed a really good attitude and also lots of leadership.
"Will Harris worked tirelessly up top, Stephen Wearne has quality and you can trust him with the ball. We want to open his game up a bit so he sees a bit more but he has that quality.
"When you can trust players on the ball, you know they can step up into the first team pretty easily."