Four second-half goals seal victory for Villa.
Sunderland U21 0 Aston Villa U21 4
Michael Drennan scored a hat-trick as Sunderland’s under-21s slipped to defeat against their Aston Villa counterparts on Wearside.
A tight first half finished goalless and gave little hint of what was to follow in the second at a windswept Academy of Light.
Drennan opened the scoring just after the hour and then teed up strike partner Graham Burke 20 minutes from time.
Villa’s Drennan then netted twice in five minutes to ensure all three points for the visitors.
Kevin Ball’s side had the better of the chances in the first period after Drennan saw a wind-assisted free-kick flash just over five minutes in.
Craig Lynch was their most productive attacking threat, testing Benjamin Siegrist with a low drive before forcing the Villa keeper to save well again just before half time.
But the second half belonged to Villa, who took the lead on 66 minutes when Daniel Johnson fed Drennan, who moved the ball onto his left foot and struck a precise shot into the bottom corner.
Sunderland almost equalised two minutes later when Lynch put Ryan Noble clear, but the striker’s shot was well blocked by Derrick Williams who made up plenty of ground to get his body in the way.
Villa moved further ahead as the influential Drennan played in Graham Burke to round Ben Wilson and slot home.
Drennan made it 3-0 when he controlled Samir Carruthers’ pass over the top before drilling the ball into Wilson’s bottom-left corner from the edge of the box.
And he rounded off the scoring with a powerful free kick from 18 yards out, leaving Wilson no chance with a well-struck curler.
Jack Grealish was denied by Wilson as Villa pushed in the closing stages, while Drennan was denied another goal late on as he strayed into an offside position to convert sub Jordan Graham’s low cross.
Sunderland: Wilson, Marrs, Ferguson, Laidler, Harrison, McNamee, Mitchell, Gorrin (Joyce, 64), Ryan Noble, Mandron, Lynch.
Subs not used: Beadling, Honeyman, Dixon.