Welcome back to playing football, Sunderland. Manchester City travelled to the Stadium of Light expecting three points, but they left with zero after running into the buzzsaw that is Phil Bardsley and the Black Cats, who scored early and then held on for dear life to claim a shocking 1-0 win.
If City were expecting their hosts to be easy prey, they were disabused of that notion rather quickly. Sunderland came out of the blocks strong, and before long they'd snatched a deserved lead. James Milner and Martin Demichelis failed to track Bardsley's run down the left, the fullback was picked out by a long punt forward from Wes Brown, and with Milner down (perhaps illegally), all that was left for Bardsley to do was to cut back and finish past Costel Pantilimon with his right foot. Which he did.
But that goal wasn't without an element of controversy. Minutes before Bardsley struck, Sebastian Larsson might well have earned his marching orders after a horror tackle on City midfielder Javi Garcia. The Sunderland man went studs up into his opponent's shin — a leg breaker if there ever was one — and somehow escaped even a booking. Perhaps Mike Dean considered crippling Garcia a City advantage?
The referee was involved in another contentious call just after the goal, although mercifully he managed to get this one right. Adam Johnson went down in the City box under challenge from Milner, but despite the home side's protests, the penalty shout was wisely waved off.
The second half saw the visitors, who'd switched out Garcia for Jesus Navas, attack in earnest. Blue shirts poured forward, but confronted with what has statistically been the league's worst defence, they somehow failed to make the breakthrough. Navas came closest, but, when presented with a virtually open goal, the substitute somehow managed to volley straight into Bardsley's shoulder.
City were huffing and puffing but failing to give Vito Mannone much trouble. His most difficult save came when Edin Dzeko sent in a thumping effort from just outside the box, but Sergio Aguero failed to make the most of the rebound, and the rest of the visitors' chances came from rather hopeful crosses that failed to amount to much of anything.
After a half of utter futility (and, it must be noted, excellent Sunderland defending), Dean finally relieved the pressure by blowing for fulltime. City's road woes continue — but for Gus Poyet and Sunderland, it's a spectacular home win.
Sunderland starting lineup (4-1-4-1): Vito Mannone; Phil Bardsley, John O'Shea, Wes Brown, Ondrej Celustka; Ki Sung-Yueng; Emanuele Giaccherini (Craig Gardner 72'), Jack Colback, Sebastian Larsson, Adam Johnson (Fabio Borini 87'); Steven Fletcher (Jozy Altidore 77').
Goals: Phil Bardsley 21'.
Manchester City starting lineup (4-4-1-1): Costel Pantilimon; Aleksandar Kolarov, Joleon Lescott, Martin Demichelis, Micah Richards (Pablo Zabaleta 70'); Samir Nasri, Yaya Toure, Javi Garcia (Jesus Navas 45'), James Milner; Sergio Aguero; Alvaro Negredo (Edin Dzeko 70').
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