Everton Under-18s suffered a heartbreaking finish as Sunderland stuck late to snatch a 3-2 comeback win at Finch Farm on Saturday.
Goals from Francis Okoronkwo and Matthew Apter had put the young Blues 2-0 ahead but the away side fought back in a dramatic encounter, with Oliver Bainbridge netting a hat-trick for the visitors.
Everton went ahead in the 26th minute when Okoronkwo latched onto a loose ball steered a shot into the back of the net.
Leighton Baines' Blues continued to apply pressure to the Sunderland defence with a chance falling to Coby Ebere after a storming solo run – his effort produced a good save from Dan Cameron at his near post.
Apter then doubled Everton’s lead with a low, driven finish into the bottom right corner from outside the area. Jack Patterson claimed the assist after some good hold-up play.
Sunderland got back into the game when full-back Bainbridge arrived at the back post to meet a cross and halve the deficit on 67 minutes.
A second followed for Bainbridge 14 minutes later. Dylan Graham did well to save his initial header, but the Sunderland left-back latched onto the rebound to draw the visitors level.
Sunderland completed the comeback in stoppage time as Bainbridge found the back of the net once more with a finish into the bottom right corner.
The Under-18s will look to bounce back when they welcome Blackburn Rovers next weekend.