Mikael Mandron scored a brace as Sunderland's under-21s beat Middlesbrough 3-2 to help maintain the pressure on Manchester United at the top.
Mandron took both of his chances well, the first of which came after five minutes, and Carl Lawson also managed to get on the scoresheet.
Arnel Jakupovic scored two of his own for Boro, the latter of which made it a nervy finish to the game as it came two minutes from time, but the Black Cats held on for the important three points.
Sunderland failed to score in their last two league games and also in the Premier League International Cup, but with virtually their first chance of the game, they took the lead.
George Honeyman sent in a pin-point cross to the back post to Mandron, who headed back across goal and into the corner for the games opener.
Rees Greenwood - who recently signed a new deal - probably should have doubled this advantage two minutes later but, after cutting inside past his man, he fired over the bar.
Intense pressure was being piled onto the Boro back four and Honeyman tried his luck from range, only for Jakupovic to block his shot in the box.
Pressure not paying off
An ambitious effort from Jakupovic was the visitors' first chance of the night. The shot troubled Maksymilian Styjek, but landed on the roof of the net.
Lawson had chances saved well by Joe Fryer in quick succession either side of Mandron's effort, which was blocked bravely near the goalline.
Boro then had a big penalty appeal waved away by the official after it appeared that Jordan Jones was brought down in the area.
Liam Agnew may well have scored the goal of the night after some fantastic one-touch football, but Fryer was on hand to push the ball round the post.
Boro pull one back after Sunderland's second
The Black Cats doubled their advantage on 61 minutes after Greenwood found Lawson on the edge of the area, and his curling shot sailed past the keeper into the back of the net.
Boro halved the deficit and found a way back into the game six minutes later when Jakupovic calmly slotted home after Harry Chapman put the forward through.
The Black Cats went down the other end from the restart and almost restored their two-goal advantage, but the crossbar came to Boro's rescue and saved the blushes of their defence.
Mandron nets decisive third
Mandron could have put the game to bed as we neared the closing stages, but he blazed over from 10 yards out. However, he made amends five minutes later when he bagged his second of the game.
Greenwood darted into the box, evading challenges on the way, before Mandron took over as he picked up the ball, swivelled, and fired across the keeper from a tight angle.
Jakupovic was fouled in the area two minutes from time, and the resulting spot-kick was converted to make for a nervous finish to the game, but the young Black Cats held on for a big win.