Josh Maja hit a brace as Sunderland overcame Burton Albion 4-1 in the FA Youth Cup on Thursday night.
Charlie Dowd gave the Brewers a shock early lead but Sunderland hit back through Maja.
A spectacular Luke Tandy own goal then put the young Black Cats ahead and there was no looking back as Lee Connelly and Maja netted again to give Sunderland a 4-1 win.
Sunderland manager Elliott Dickman named a strong side which included Maja and Joel Asoro, who were both substitutes in yesterday’s Premier League defeat to Chelsea, as well as Elliot Embleton.
The visitors couldn’t have hoped for a better start taking the lead in only the third minute. Good football from the Brewers worked the ball round to Dowd and he fired high into the net to stun the home crowd.
Sunderland responded well but their momentum was halted when play stopped so Burton’s Dylan Garbutt could be stretchered off.
Just before the quarter of an hour mark, Embleton took responsibility for a 22-yard free-kick and the England Under-18 international curled just wide with Callum Hawkins scrambling.
Maja could have pulled the hosts level in the 23rd minute when meeting a corner at the near post but his volley was an awkward one and looped harmlessly over.
However, Maja wouldn’t be left to rue on missed chances as he pulled the Black Cats level a matter of seconds later. Asoro cut in from the right to fire a low shot which Hawkins couldn’t hold and Maja was quickest to react to poke home.
Sunderland started controlling the ball from this point with Embleton particularly impressive and dominant in the centre of midfield.
In the 32nd minute, the hosts took the lead in rather bizzare fashion. Maja applied pressure on Tandy on the edge of his penalty area and looking to clear, Tandy dinked an effort into his own top corner from 20 yards.
It was all one way traffic from this point with Sunderland looking a cut above their Youth Alliance opponents.
When Jack Hackett drilled a low ball across the face of the Burton goal in the 40th minute, the simplest of touches would have doubled Sunderland’s lead but it didn’t come and Sunderland went into the break a goal to the good.
Burton came out for the second half rejuvenated and had numerous chances to pull level before the hour mark.
Firstly, good work from Reece Hutchinson saw him find Tristian Matthews who did well to cut in but his low drive was well held by Michael Woud.
Substitute Jake Davies blazed well over ten minutes into the second period while Joe Sbarra drilled a daisy cutter just wide of Woud’s bottom corner in the 60th minute.
Despite the warning signs being there from Burton, it wouldn’t prove enough as Sunderland scored a third 20 minutes from time.
Connelly did very well to weave through the defence before hitting a low effort which took a wicked deflection to loop over Hawkins and nestle into the net.
The rather lucky goal seemed to sink Burton and it was certainly game over four minutes later as Maja collected his second of the evening.
A cross into the penalty bounced all the way through to Maja at the back post and the former Fulham man drilled home.
There was still time for Sunderland to almost add a fifth as Embleton’s long-range drive came crashing back off the crossbar but it wouldn’t matter as the final whistle confirmed a comfortable win for the young Black Cats.
Full-time: Sunderland U18s 4-1 Burton Albion U18s
Sunderland U18s: Woud, Gamble, Taylor, Storey (c), Krusnell, Asoro (Kimpioka, 77′), Embleton, Allan, Hackett (McAughtrie, 83′), Maja, Connelly (Diamond, 75′)
Unused subs: Patterson, Young
Burton Albion U18s: Hawkins, Tandy, Hutchinson, Hallahan, Ganley, Cotterill, Hunt (Steele, 63′), Sbarra, Garnett (Davies, 12′), Dowd, Matthews (Saville, 91′)
Unused: Smith, Walker