Manchester City’s clinical finishing outgunned Sunderland Under-23s in an ultimately convincing Premier League 2 win tonight.
The Wearsiders, under new coach Elliott Dickman for the first time, produced an impressive first-half performance, but their inability to finish proved their downfall.
Lynden Gooch, though, came through another 86 minutes in his push for full match fitness after a long lay-off, and he grabbed Sunderland’s consolation goal.
Sunderland’s bright start saw Ethan Robson test keeper Daniel Grimshaw with a free-kick which headed for the top corner.
Demeaco Duhaney gave City an eighth-minute lead, firing in a cross from six yards past keeper Max Stryjek.
Cameron Humphreys denied Sunderland an 18th-minute leveller, producing an outstanding block to deny Rees Greenwood, after good work from Josh Maja and Lynden Gooch.
Sunderland kept pressing and went close again, with keeper Grimshaw saving from the lively Greenwood, after an inch-perfect Joel Asoro pass.
City, though, doubled their lead in the 28th minute, as Brahim Diaz fed striker Lukas Nmecha, who slammed a low shot past Stryjek after beating the offside trap.
The visitors survived a scare when Diaz looked certain to score on 34 minutes, and they saw it through to half-time without conceding.
Sunderland came under the cosh at the start of the second half, but a little relief came when Lynden Gooch fired just over Grimshaw’s bar.
The American then got Sunderland on the scoresheet, at 2-1, sidefooting home from the left midway through the second period.
It was the first goal in a PL2 game for Sunderland since December 9, after three shut-outs, and the Black Cats looked to force their way level.
City, though, restored their two-goal advantage on 77 minutes, with Rodney Kongolo capitalising on a mistake to play in Jadon Sancho, who curled in a fine third goal from the edge of the box.
Duhaney made it four in the closing stages, shooting past Stryjek after excellent work from sub Paolo Fernandes.
Manchester City: Grimshaw, Duhaney, Humphreys, Adarabioyo, Francis, Diallo, Diaz, Kongolo (Fernandes 79), Nmecha (Buckley-Ricketts 89), Boadu, Sancho (Nemane 85). Subs: Patching, Muric
Sunderland: Stryjek, J Robson, T Robson, Embleton, Ledger, Brady, Asoro (Molyneux 76), Robson, Gooch (Hume 86), Maja, Greenwood. Subs: Casey, Talbot, Wright