Development squad lose out at Anfield.
Liverpool U21 5 Sunderland U21 2
Sunderland’s development squad lost for the first time in the Barclays U21 Premier League this season as they went down 5-2 to their Liverpool counterparts at Anfield.
The young Black Cats, who had won their opening four games of the campaign, led 2-0 after Alex Gorrin and David Moberg Karlsson notched first-half goals.
However a Liverpool side containing five players with first-team experience and transfer deadline day signing Tiago Ilori replied through Luis Alberto’s hat-trick and strikes either side of half-time from Jack Dunn and Raheem Sterling.
The Reds saw Lloyd Jones sent off for head-butting Mikael Mandron in the second-half on a cruel evening for the visitors after they had started so well in Merseyside.
Coach Kevin Ball and his staff will take heart from the youngsters’ first-half performance as they were the dominant outfit throughout the opening 45 minutes.
George Honeyman, who excelled in the development squad’s win at Southampton, was the first to go close for the Black Cats when he crashed a left-footed half-volley just over.
Scott Harrison then rose highest to meet David Ferguson’s corner but the former Darlington man couldn’t quite keep his header down.
The visitors were ahead on the half hour as Liverpool failed to clear a Sunderland corner and Gorrin was on hand to drive home a left-footed shot from the edge of the area.
Jon Flanagan went close to equalising for the hosts before Ball’s side doubled their advantage four minutes before the break; Moberg Karlsson latched onto Duncan Watmore's through ball and rounded Ward before sliding home a neat finish.
The Reds got a goal just before the break as Dunn latched onto Martin Kelly’s cross and tapped in from eight yards.
Liverpool levelled after just five second-half minutes when Sterling pulled back for Alberto to drive home his first of the evening.
It was Sterling who put the hosts ahead just two minutes later as Ibe’s cut-back caused a goalmouth scramble before the England international tapped home.
The Merseyside outfit were reduced to ten men on the hour when Jones reacted to Mandron’s tackle and head-butted the Sunderland striker, leaving the referee with no choice but to send the Welshman off.
Substitute Carl Lawson went close to a leveller with his first touch as Adam Mitchell and Ferguson linked up well with the latter pulling back for the striker who saw his shot blocked by team-mate Mandron.
Sunderland were caught on the counter as they searched for an equaliser and Alberto grabbed his second despite Tom McNamee’s fantastic initial tackle.
And the Spaniard bagged a third from the penalty spot as Dixon brought Sterling down inside the area and Alberto stepped up to convert.
Liam Agnew and Mandron went close to late consolation strikes but it turned out to be a cruel evening for the visitors after such an excellent start.
The young Black Cats will look to get back to winning ways when they host Middlesbrough at Eppleton CW on Monday.
SAFC: Dixon, Marrs (c), Ferguson, Cabral (Agnew, 80), Harrison, McNamee, Watmore, Gorrin, Mandron, Honeyman (Lawson, 62), Moberg Karlsson (Mitchell, 62).
Subs not used: Stryjek, Cartwright.