SUNDERLAND 1, MANCHESTER CITY 0
Sunderland took to take a leaf out of North East rivals Newcastle United’s book earlier in the day against Spurs by taking an early lead through ex-Manchester United defender Phil Bardsley and then subsequently heroically defending it, inflicting a fourth league defeat of the season on City before the end of November. It was the fourth season in a row that Sunderland had beaten City 1-0 at home in the league.
City have struggled on their travels and they sorely missed the metronomic passing of midfield talisman David Silva who was in a rich vein of form, and a much-changed back four with Martin Demichelis joined by Aleksander Kolarov, Joleon Lescott and Micah Richards at the back while Costel Pantilimon retained the goalkeepers’ jersey. Pellegrini made five changes in all as James Milner and Javi Garcia joined Yaya Toure in City’s midfield.
The home side, buoyed by recent good performances, had to wait until Seb Larsson’s cross halfway though the first half which was headed wide by Steven Fletcher. Larsson also put in some committed tackles including a late high one from Larsson which hit Javi Garcia squarely on the shin which went unpunished.
Sunderland’s opening goal was made by a pair of former Manchester United players with Wes Brown’s long punt upfield beating both Martin Demichelis and James Milner. Phil Bardsley took full advantage and curled a low shot into the corner past Costel Pantilimon in the 21st minute.
Sergio Aguero could have levelled matters before half time with a header when Aleksandar Kolarov put a tempting cross in from the left wing but the in-form Argentine sent it wide.
Jesus Navas came on for Garcia at the break and City were immediately improved, his crosses for Negredo caused problems for Sunderland and Aguero slipped the ball to him four minutes after the restart but the Spaniard’s left footed strike and his follow-up were both blocked.
The siege was on, but City were having no luck in front of goal. Edin Dzeko’s header went wide while Kolarov shot wide from 20 yards. Kolarov subsequently had a free kick repelled while Lescott’s header from a corner was high. Even Martin Demichelis was thrown into the attack by the end but this weekend was one for the North East to savour.