Sunderland U23s thrash Peterborough U23s to reach Premier League Cup knockout stages
Jack Diamond scored a hat-trick as Sunderland Under-23s thrashed Peterborough Under-23s 6-2 to reach the knockout stages of the Premier League Cup.
First-half goals from Diamond and Lee Connelly put Elliott Dickman's side in full control at Eppleton CW, Hetton, before Benji Kimpioka added a third just after the interval.
Morgan Penfold pulled one back for the visitors before Connelly and Diamond put the game beyond doubt.
Oliver Shackleton netted a late consolation for Posh before Diamond completed the scoring in stoppage-time.
The result means the Black Cats have won four of their five games in Group A and qualified with one match to spare.
It was also Sunderland’s second straight win in all competitions following their recent victory over Reading Under-23s in Premier League 2, Division 2.
Diamond netted the only goal of the game against the Royals at the Stadium of Light and it wasn’t long before the 19-year-old winger was on the score-sheet once again.
The hosts took the lead in the fourth minute when Diamond progressed to the byline on the right and clipped a cross into the box.
Peterborough failed to deal with the delivery and the ball dropped straight back to Diamond, who calmly tucked the ball past goalkeeper Joshua Allen.
Dickman’s side saw more of the ball than in previous league games, with Bali Mumba and Daniel Neil taking up advanced positions to support Kimpioka up top.
The Swedish striker, 18, was a threat throughout and almost doubled Sunderland’s lead in the 16th minute, only to be denied by Allen.
Allen made another fine stop two minutes later, when Kimpioka tried his luck from distance and the keeper palmed away his effort.
Yet Sunderland moved 2-0 ahead in the 28th minute, when Connelly played a neat one-two with Neil on the right before stabbing a low left-foot shot past Allen.
Despite Sunderland’s dominance the hosts were almost punished when Max Johnstone’s clearance fell straight to Shackleton and the Black Cats keeper recovered to make a save.
From the resulting corner, Sunderland defender Kane Evans was involved in a nasty-looking collision and had to be stretchered off, with Alex Storey taking his place.
The second half burst into life when Kimpioka was tripped by defender Samuel Cartwright to win a penalty six minutes after the interval.
After picking himself up, the Sunderland forward sent Allen the wrong way to make it 3-0 from the spot.
Peterborough pulled one back four minutes later when Penfold converted Harrison Burrows' low cross from the right.
But it wasn't long before the Black Cats regained their three-goal cushion, when Kimpioka set up Connelly to score his second and Sunderland's fourth.
Diamond added a fifth with 10 minutes to go after cutting in from the left, rounding the keeper and tapping the ball into an empty net.
Shackleton pulled one back for the visitors before Diamond added a sixth.
Sunderland U23s: Johnstone, Evans (Storey, 44), Young, Taylor, Hunter, Connolly, Mumba, Neil (Hackett, 68), Diamond, Connelly, Kimpioka (Slack 68).
Subs not used: Cameron, Leonard.
Peterborough U23s: Allen, Douglas, Fosu, Gurney, Cartwright (Salmon 87), Jones (Horne 68), Burrows, Ruzvidzo (Rolt 64), Shackleton, Penfold, Strachan.
Subs not used:, Rudman, Smith.
Goals: Diamond 4, Connelly 28, Kimpioka 51, Penfold 56, Connelly, 64, Diamond 80, Shackleton 85, Diamond 90.
Bookings: Young, Kimpioka, Mumba
Referee: Mr Martin Woods