Joel Asoro had a big part to play in the first goal. Richard Sellers/PA Wire.

Sunderland under-23s booked their place in the semi-final of the Premier League International Cup after a feisty encounter at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday.

The Black Cats opened the scoring after 25 minutes with Ethan Robson scoring from close range.

And Sunderland grabbed a second two minutes after the interval, Elliot Embleton scoring the goal from 20 yards.

Athletic Bilbao were reduced to ten men on 56 minutes with Inigo Cordoba shown his marching orders.

The Spanish side started brightly, with Unai Nunez seeing his header saved on four minutes after a good delivery from Cordoba.

Iker Hernandez then hit a venomous strike following a clever pass over the defence but Max Stryjek was equal to it.

Robson put Sunderland ahead on 25 minutes with Bilbao keeper Unai Etxeberria parrying Joel Asoro’s initial effort. The Swede found space inside the box before forcing a good save out of Etxeberria but Robson was there to poke home.

Hernandez and Cordoba linked up well just before the break with the latter being denied as Stryjek pulled off a good save to keep the score at 1-0 going into half time.

Sunderland started the second half brightly and nearly doubled their lead straight after the restart. Asoro latched onto a hopeful pass from Tom Robson, but he couldn’t beat Etxeberria as the shotstopper made himself big.

The home side did then double their advantage with Elliot Embleton finding the bottom left hand corner. Embleton found himself in space on the edge of the Bilbao box before unleashing a wicked strike past the helpless Etxeberria.

The lively Cordoba was then dismissed for an altercation with an opposing player which sparked fury among both sides.

Ethan Robson came close to his second of the game but was denied by the post.