Sunderland under-23s endured an afternoon to forget as they suffered their first Premier League Cup defeat of the season at Burnley.
Daniel Agyei broke the deadlock inside 22 minutes with a surging run from deep before two goals in four minutes saw the Black Cats turn the match on its head.
Rees Greenwood drilled an effort into the bottom corner on the half-hour mark and then Josh Maja slotted home to give Elliott Dickman’s side a well-deserved lead.
But Burnley romped through the gears from that moment onwards, Agyei levelling things up with a poachers header on 37 minutes before Jimmy Dunne found the corner, with the help of stopper James Talbot, with his header on the stroke of half-time.
Arlen Birch then netted an acrobatic scorpion kick minutes after the interval to deal the Black Cats another blow.
And Burnley made sure of the win in the 69th minute when one of their trialist’s sent a venomous strike into the top corner from 25 yards.
Maja reduced the arrears from the penalty spot in the dying embers, but it proved too little too late for the Black Cats.
The Black Cats will have to wait until Thursday when they travel to Blackburn Rovers to cement their place in the knockout stages Premier League Cup.
Elliott Dickman made two changes for their trip to the North West, handing New Zealand international Sam Brotherton his first start in the heart of defence while Maja returned from the treatment room to partner Joel Asoro up top.
It can be argued that Maja’s impact has been missed in recent weeks, and the striker certainly shone in the opening stages on his return to full fitness.
Ethan Robson’s switch of play on the halfway line saw Josh Robson drill a pass into Asoro’s feet with his back to goal. Maja spun his man and the Swede calmly knocked the ball into his path before the forward advanced and stung the hands of Connor Mitchell.
From the resultant corner a deft touch at the near post saw Mitchell beaten this time, however, skipper Kevin Long was well positioned on the line to slam the ball clear.
Luke Molyneux jinked his way inside but ballooned an effort high over the bar as the Black Cats struggled to build on their early rhythm.
And as frustration mounted in Sunderland’s camp, the Claret’s sensed blood as Agyei struck with devastating effect on 22 minutes.
Rees Greenwood conceded possession inside the hosts’ half, and in the blink of an eye Agyei galloped over the halfway line and sent a rocket past James Talbot’s near post.
Burnley’s lead last just eight minutes, though, Greenwood made amends for his earlier mishap by taking the game by the scruff of the neck and drilling the Black Cats level.
Asoro sent Molyneux on his way down the right flank and the winger’s quick thinking saw Greenwood well-placed to nestle his strike into Mitchell’s far corner.
Four minutes later, the Lads turned the tie on its head. This time Maja was the man in the right place at the right time to touch home past and on rushing Mitchell after combining with Asoro.
It was nothing more than the Lads deserved, but sadly, it wasn’t to last.
While Maja saw his effort hooked off the line at one end, Burnley regrouped and did what Sunderland did to them as they came from behind themselves. . .
With 37 minutes on the clock, Agyei grabbed his second of the game with a soft header home from Dwight McNeil’s crafted cross before Dunne ensured the Claret’s went into the half-time as his header off a corner snuck in.
The hosts picked up where they left off at the start of the second period, Birch netting an unbelievable scorpion kick to hand Burnley a two-goal cushion.
Sunderland were rocked.
As rain poured onto the saturated surface at Edgeley Park, conditions started to prove a major factor as the Black Cats’ frustration grew.
Asoro went through on goal twice but draw a blank on both occasions as Mithell oozed confident between Burnley’s posts to snuff out the danger.
That was about as good as it got for Sunderland as a Burnley trialist sent a rasping drive into the top corner from 25 yards on 69 minutes.
Maja reduced the arrears from the penalty spot in the dying embers, but it proved too little too late as the Claret’s round off their Premier League Cup campaign with a win.
For the Black Cats, though, it was an afternoon to forget.
Burnley: Mitchell, Bitch, Trialist, Long, Wilson, Jumeau, Dunne, Trialist (Trialist, 45), McNeil, Agyei, Thomas (Trialist, 55)
Subs not used: Aghayere, Olomewewe, Wood
Sunderland: Talbot, J Robson, Hume, Casey, Brotherton, Greenwood, E Robson, Molyneux, Embleton, Asoro, Maja (Gamble, 87)
Subs not used: Stryjek, Poame, Taylor, Wright