United's youngsters relinquished a three-goal lead at Carrington to frustratingly fail to end a long winless run at league level ahead of Friday's FA Youth Cup semi-final date with Chelsea at Old Trafford.
Paul McGuinness' side were excellent in the first half with Gyliano van Velzen, James Wilson and Mats Daehli all on the scoresheet but Sunderland hit back as the strong wind clearly played a part.
Wilson's hassling of goalkeeper Joel Dixon twice reaped dividends, firstly with only five minutes on the clock. Dixon was forced to rush a pass out of defence and, although the Black Cats skipper almost atoned by keeping out van Velzen's initial attempt, the Dutchman calmly took his time to pick his spot from the rebound.
Jack Barmby and Wilson had shots blocked and van Velzen fired just over following a neat move as the Reds took full charge of proceedings. Liam Jacob and Dixon made smart saves to keep out Jordan Laidler and Wilson respectively as the action continued.
Just past the half-hour mark, a deep Tyler Blackett cross was met by Liam Grimshaw and the ball was ferried to Wilson, via van Velzen, with the schoolboy striker's explosive finish leaving Dixon with no chance. After Mikael Mandron clipped a post, Dixon struggled to clear his lines in the wind with Wilson closing him down and Daehli was left with the simplest of finishes to roll in a third.
The scoreline was a little harsh on Kevin Ball's side and they responded with a Laidler penalty after Ben Pearson blotted an otherwise outstanding return from a lengthy lay-off with a nudge on Nathan Thomas inside the box.
Aided by the conditions after the teams changed ends, Sunderland started the second half in the ascendancy. However, Jacob was equal to their best efforts, including one vital intervention to thwart James Brace, and Thomas hit the woodwork.
But the Wearsiders stunned the hosts with a quickfire double in a matter of seconds as Ross Holland blasted in a speculative long-range drive and then Thomas was left in the clear