Manchester City 2-1 Sunderland: Sluggish Black Cats fold late to City pressure

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  • Pep Guardiola benched England goalkeeper Joe Hart
  • Aguero scored from the spot four minutes in
  • Defoe struck back with 20 minutes to go
  • City pressure produces own-goal winner

It seemed that Jermain Defoe had earned Sunderland a quality point on the road at Manchester City. Then, with 10 minutes to go, new Sunderland manager David Moyes removed Defoe for a central defender, and City capitalized on the negative mentality to give Pep Guardiola a 2-1 win in his Premier League debut.

Sunderland looked sluggish and disinterested for much of the match, and while Defoe had pulled back level on a moment of lapse in the Manchester City defense, the attacking prowess of the home side eventually saw Paddy McNair turn the ball into his own net with three minutes to go in regulation.

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Just minutes into the game, Raheem Sterling made a run down the right-hand side and received a long header from Fernandinho. Sterling had Patrick Van Anholt beat, and so the Dutchman slid through his legs in the box, leaving the referee no choice but to point to the spot.

Sergio Aguero deposited the penalty easily past Vito Mannone, and City led just four minutes into the game.

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The early goal didn’t change much, with Sunderland still happy to sit back and absorb oodles of City pressure. American Lynden Gooch, on his Premier League debut, did have a moment in the 11th minute, cutting a nice whipped cross untouched along the face of goal, but there was no Black Cat striker to meet it.

The game ground to a crawl as Sunderland had no interest in going forward and City played with a calm, patient demeanor. Finally, the visitors forced Willy Caballero into a save on 40 minutes. A short corner swung in eventually popped up in the air. When it came down, Lamine Kone flicked it towards Defoe, just onside in front of net. Defoe got away from Fernandinho and hit from close range, but Caballero stood tall to save.

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Down the other end, American Lynden Gooch – on for his debut under David Moyes – picked up a yellow card for an attempted tackle hoping to stop a City counter.

City should have gone two-up on the hour mark as Sterling burst down the left and cut across the face of goal. The ball was only cleared to David Silva at the spot, and while he was pressured into a whiff, the ball came to Aguero who rifled just wide from point-blank range.

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With Sunderland looking to sleep its way through the match, they sprung to life on 70 minutes. John Stones stepped up to guard Jack Rodwell with the ball at the top of the box, allowing Rodwell to cut the ball through to Defoe onsides and unmarked. The striker took two touches to pass by Bacary Sagna, and deposited it easily past Caballero.

David Moyes, apparently happy to see the game out at 1-1, pulled Defoe off in favor of former Manchester United manager Paddy McNair. That defensive managerial tactic ultimately did Sunderland in, as relentless City pressure in the waning minutes saw the hosts earn a winner. A cross from Jesus Navas slipped through the fingertips of Vito Mannone, and with both Kelechi Iheanacho and Fabian Delph lurking at the goal mouth, the ball clipped McNair and went into the net for an own-goal.