Sunderland under-18s’ hopes of a winning start to the season were dashed at the hands of a rampant Liverpool side who ran out 6-1 winners at the Academy of Light.
The Reds went ahead through Rhys Williams’ header after 16 minutes before Bobby Duncan’s penalty and Paul Glatzel’s solo effort made it three at half time.
Sonny Best’s second half strike handed the Black Cats a lifeline before Liverpool quashed any hopes of a comeback with three quickfire goals from Glatzel, Jack Walls and Abdi Sharif ensuring they left Wearside with three points.
Liverpool started the brighter of the two sides under clear skies at the Academy of Light, continuously regaining possession via a high press that the Black Cats struggled to adjust to early on.
It took 14 minutes for the first chance of the game to present itself, and it fell to visiting striker Glatzel who turned outside his man in the area and fired goalwards only to be thwarted by the superb sliding block of Andrias Edmundsson.
The Reds capitalised on their early pressure swiftly afterwards however when Williams sent a short corner crashing in off the post with an accurate header to leave the Black Cats reeling.
The visitors continued to dominate proceedings although not creating an abundance of chances, with main dangerman Glatzel’s curled effort clearing the bar in a rare sight of goal from open play.
They didn’t need open play to gain a golden chance to double their lead however, as Rayed Derbali’s shirt pull inside a crowded penalty area afforded Liverpool the chance to score from the penalty spot – an opportunity Bobby Duncan gladly took as he side footed out of the reach of goalkeeper Jack Newman.
Glatzel grabbed his side’s third four minutes before the break to leave Atkinson’s men with a mountain to climb, dancing past multiple defenders before firing low into the near corner.
Captain Kane Evans worked a fantastic opportunity for himself as he won the ball back on the edge of the area thanks to a misplaced pass, but he could only clear the bar with his right-footed effort.
Best handed the Black Cats a lifeline with just over 20 minutes remaining as he diverted the ball past Ben Williams to round off an impressive move on what was an off-day for the hosts.
Unfortunately, Liverpool were not in the mood for a comeback and instantly restored their three-goal buffer from the penalty spot after 73 minutes as Glatzel side-footed home following Derbali’s foul on Luis Longstaff.
The visitors added another two goals in quick succession to make the scoreline all the more commanding, the fifth via Jack Walls’ back-post tap-in from Elijah Dixon-Bonner’s cross before Abdi Sharif added a sixth as he capitalised on confusion in the area to slot into an unguarded net.
Sunderland: Newman; Devine, Evans (Smith, 46’), Derbali, Edmundsson, Leonard, Scothern, Kiernan, Lilley (Ord, 75’), Best.
Subs: Cameron, Miller, Bruce.