Tahith Chong scored twice as Manchester United's Under-23s beat Sunderland 3-0 in Premier League 2, despite being down to 10 men since the 26th minute.
George Tanner's red card had seemed to hand the Black Cats the advantage, after Chong's early goal was little more than the Reds deserved for an imposing start. However, Chong provided the assist for DJ Buffonge to add a second before scoring the third himself as Ricky Sbragia's side comfortably overcame his former club at Leigh Sports Village.
The result continues United's unbeaten start to the campaign and takes the boys to the top of the table ahead of next week's opponents Wolves.
Chong provided an early breakthrough with a finish from out of the top drawer. A move developed down the right and, when Zak Dearnley supplied a pass into the box, Josh Bohui backheeled it towards Chong. The Netherlands Under-20 international had other options but wrapped his boot around the ball to beat former Red Max Johnstone with a low drive into the keeper's right-hand corner of the net.
Buffonge soon almost added a second, bundling his way through to stab a shot against the base of a post. Callum Whelan was next to go close, nudging an intelligent corner by Chong just the wrong side of the far post, while Buffonge and Dearnley had other efforts.
It all seemed to be going swimmingly for United until Tanner was harshly sent off in the 26th minute for clipping the heels of Lee Connolly. It was a surprise when the red card was shown, with the full-back as bemused as anybody, but it left the hosts down to 10 men. The free-kick, by Jake Hackett, forced a first real save out of Matej Kovar and the Black Cats came more into the game, with Dan Neil pouncing on a loose pass by Tyrell Warren to fire just wide in first-half stoppage time.
As was the case in the opening 45 minutes, United struck quickly - and this goal really knocked the stuffing out of the Wearsiders. Chong led the charge forward and switched the ball to Buffonge on his left, with the creative midfielder's accurate finish going past Johnstone to double the lead.
Johnstone's pass out from the back was expertly controlled by Bohui and the forward teed up Ethan Hamilton, only for the Black Cats keeper to redeem himself with a smart save to the side-footed attempt and Whelan fired over when the danger was not properly cleared. However, Johnstone was soon picking the ball out of his net again, when Hamilton fed Chong, who cut inside and placed another low shot beyond the keeper for number three.
Despite being a man down, the Reds were in full control - even if Kovar did have to make his best stop of the evening to thwart a decent long-range attempt by Williams Kokolo. Johnstone made an even better save, flying through the air to tip over a curler by Bohui, the second time he frustrated the former Brentford man in the space of a few minutes.
There was time for one final stop by Johnstone, as he did well to deny the impressive Hamilton towards the end.
United: Kovar; Warren (O'Connor 46), Poole, R. Williams, Tanner; Whelan, Buffonge, Hamilton; Chong (Baars 74), Bohui, Dearnley (Garner 46).
Subs not used: Woolston, Ercolani.
United 3 (Chong 4,60 Buffonge 48)
Sbragia's side take on Wolves at Molineux in Premier League 2, live on MUTV, on Friday 26 October (19:00 BST kick-off).Reading this in our app? If not, you might miss some exclusive features not found on ManUtd.com. Download the Official App here.