February 2, 2016
Posted by @dclayton_mcfc
City ground out a hard-fought 1-0 win over Sunderland thanks to Sergio Aguero´s
17th goal of the campaign.
The Blues were far from their best on a chilly night in the north-east, but with
Leicester and Tottenham both winning as well, this was a crucial three points in this
most fascinating of title races.
And with the Foxes and Spurs next up, anything other than a win at the Stadium of
Light would have been a severe blow to the Blues´ title aspirations.
Manuel Pellegrini, overseeing his 100th Premier League game, made five changes
from the side that comprehensively swept Aston Villa aside at the weekend.
Kelechi Iheanacho retained his place while Joe Hart, Martin Demichelis, Yaya Toure,
David Silva and Aguero all returned to the starting XI.
With the Blues´ recent away form picking up over the past month and Sunderland
embroiled in a relegation battle, City started this game as strong favourites.
Aguero went close with a long-range effort as the Blues started confidently and it was
the in-form Argentine striker – inevitably – who put the visitors ahead with just 16
The ball worked its way out towards Jesus Navas who whipped a deflected low cross
into the box that fell perfectly for Aguero who sidestepped his marker before poking
the ball over Mannone and into the net.
There was concern immediately after due to Billy Jones´ crude attempt to stop the
City man but fortunately there was no serious damage caused other than stud marks
down Kun´s calf.
The Blues remained on top until the half-hour mark but it was Sunderland who
finished the half stronger and on 34 minutes, Lamine Kone was guilty of glaring miss
as he headed Jeremain Lens cross wide with the goal at his mercy.
City didn´t heed that warning and a minute before the break had Hart to thank for
keeping out the improving Black Cats as Jermain Defoe worked an opportunity in the
box and fired in a low drive that the England keeper somehow pushed out and Jones
smacked the loose ball against the post.
The Blues had taken their foot off the gas somewhat and Sunderland were, at the
stage, in the ascendency. Pellegrini replaced Iheanacho with Fernando in a bid to
bolster the midfield.
It was a strange game in many ways with City unable to find a second goal and the
hosts continuing to knock on the door throughout the second-half.
Clearly the Black Cats´ three new signings had given their team impetus, and in the
closing stages John O´Shea blazed over from close range and then a series of superb
corners from Khazri caused all kinds of problems for the Blues.
Hart was again called upon to make a fine save from Jones and the final moments
were frantic and, at times desperate,. as Sunderland peppered City’s goal from all
Then, in the fifth minute of injury time, man-of-the-match Nicolas Otamendi
heroically headed off the line when it seemed the Blues´ resistance had finally
It wasn´t pleasant to watch, but City showed grit and determination even though they
were far from their best, banked three more precious points ahead of Saturday’s top of
the table clash with the Foxes.
Sunderland (0): Mannone, Jones, O’Shea, Kone, Kirchhoff, van Aanholt, Cattermole
(Johnson 75), M’Vila, Borini (NDoye 82), Lens (Khazri 46), Defoe
Manchester City (1): Hart, Sagna, Demichelis, Otamendi, Clichy, Fernandinho, Yaya
Toure (Kolarov , Silva, Navas (Sterling 77), Aguero, Iheanacho (Fernando 46)
Goals: Aguero 16
Bookings: Jones, Otamendi, Aguero, Fernandinho
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