Sunderland Under-23s withstood some late pressure to win their opening Premier League International Cup game against German side Hertha Berlin at the Stadium of Light.

The Black Cats, who reached the final of the European competition last campaign, led for most of the game after Paddy McNair’s first-half header opened the scoring.

First teamers Duncan Watmore, Brendan Galloway and Jack Rodwell all started the match, however, after an assured start from Elliott Dickman’s side, the visitors posed a greater threat after the interval.

The result was put beyond any doubt in second-half stoppage time when substitute Jack Diamond was fouled inside the penalty area and Tom Beadling converted the spot-kick.

Dickman’s side started the game in a 4-5-1 formation, with Watmore leading the line and Rodwell at centre-back alongside Beadling.

In the early exchanges, Sunderland looked comfortable in possession without offering a significant goal threat.

Watmore looked lively with a couple of runs beyond the visitors’ backline, however it took over 20 minutes for either side to register a shot on target.

On 28 minutes, Watmore’s persistence forced an error from a Berlin defender, presenting the striker with a path to goal. However, Watmore squandered his first chance and was smothered by Goalkeeper Leon Bruggemeier.

Nine minutes later, the hosts took the lead after Berlin failed to clear Donald Love’s low cross from the right.

The ball broke to Watmore who was once again smothered by Bruggemeier, however McNair was on hand to guide a looping header into the net.

Berlin did create a couple of opportunities, the best of which fell to forward Shawn Kauter.

The German forward was sent through on goal after an untimely slip from Rodwell, however Sunderland goalkeeper James Talbot reacted sharply to keep the ball out.

At half-time, Dickman withdrew Watmore, McNair and Ethan Robson, as Owen Gamble, Andrew Nelson and Diamond entered the fray.

After the interval, Sunderland struggled to regain their momentum and were fortunate not to be pegged back when Kauter shot into the side netting.

Winger Tahsin Cakmak was also starting to cause problems from the right and went close in the 67th minute when he cut inside of Love before firing wide.

Sunderland should have made the final few minutes a little less nerve-racking 10 minutes from time.

Rees Greenwood’s free-kick fell to Rodwell inside the area, however the latter’s scuffed shot was deflected wide.

Tempers threatened to boil over as Berlin captain Tony Fuchs became increasingly agitated with the referee, prompting some sarcastic jeers from the home crowd.

The result was confirmed moments later when Diamond charged down the left before being chopped down inside the area.

Beadling calmly slotted the ball home with virtually the last kick of the game.

The U23’s will now look ahead to Monday’s game against Arsenal U23’s at the Emirates stadium.