- Albion open their Premier League Cup account with 5-0 win
- Max Sanders secures first-half brace
- Steven Alzate notches either side of half-time
- James Tilley rounds off a brilliant Albion breakaway
Brighton & Hove Albion’s under-23s got their Premier League Cup campaign underway with an emphatic 5-0 victory over Sunderland at the Eppleton Colliery Welfare Ground this evening.
The Seagulls dominated from start to finish against the Black Cats, with Max Sanders and Steven Alzate both scoring twice, before James Tilley rounded off an impressive counter attack to finish the scoring.
Simon Rusk made just one change to the starting line-up that were beaten 1-0 at Aston Villa on Monday, as Dessie Hutchinson made way for Sanders in central midfield.
After a quiet opening to the game, George Cox picked out Tilley with an outstanding cross-field pass, and after the winger cut inside onto his left foot, his fierce effort was deflected behind for a corner.
Soufyan Ahannach was next to create an opportunity in front of goal, but the Dutchman’s effort sailed over the crossbar after finding space with clever movement inside the penalty area.
Albion got the reward for their early pressure in the 19th minute, when Sanders cut inside onto his right foot and drilled a powerful effort past Sunderland goalkeeper Michael Woud from a tight angle.
Just four minutes later, Albion doubled their lead and it was Sanders again, as the midfielder pounced on a mistake at the back from Sunderland’s defence, before picking out the top corner to secure his brace.
Will Collar came close to extending Albion’s lead, but the midfielder’s side-footed attempt from Ahannach’s cutback was blocked on the goal line, as the Black Cats continued to look unconvincing at the back.
Henrik Bjordal raced to the byline and pulled the ball back for Sanders, who could have secured a first-half hat-trick from 12 yards, but his right-footed shot rolled narrowly wide of the target.
But Albion's lead was furthered on the stroke of half-time, as Alzate latched onto a searching pass forward, cut inside of his marker and dispatched into the bottom corner with a confident, clinical finish.
Robert Sanchez made his first notable stop of the match shortly after the re-start, as he got down well to claim Andrew Nelson’s fierce low-driven strike from just inside the box.
But the Black Cats were made to pay for another defensive lapse in the 49th minute, when Alzate rolled the ball underneath Michael Woud to make it 4-0, after being sent through on goal by another defence-splitting pass.
Tilley added a fifth goal for the Seagulls in the 75th minute, following a spell of uneventful action, as he finished off a wonderful break that included a headed clearance from Josh Kerr, before Ahannach’s perfectly-weighted cross to the back post.
Albion pushed for another in the closing stages, but Rusk’s team were finished at five goals and left the north east with all three points and a healthy goal difference in the Premier League Cup.