City's abject away form continues
FA Premier League
Sunday 10 November 2013, 14.05 KO
City: Pantilimon, Richards (Zabaleta 71), Demichelis, Lescott, Kolarov, Milner, Toure (c), Garcia (Navas 45), Nasri, Aguero, Negredo (Dzeko 71)
Unused: Hart, Clichy, Boyata, Rodwell
Referee: Mike Dean
Man of the Match: Samir Nasri
It was a cagey start from both sides. The even first ten minutes was broken up by Milner’s rising effort, but that was easy for Manone to catch, before Johnson tried to slide a ball through for Giaccherini. It was too long and Pantilimon was able to collect. Fletcher crept in between City’s two centre-backs, but couldn’t direct his header on target.
Larsson was lucky not to have seen a red for a high and late challenge on Garcia, following a poor touch from Toure, but the referee decided not even to show a yellow card. It didn’t look too dissimilar to either of the challenges that received reds for Sunderland last weekend.
On 21 minutes, City fell behind. Bardsley could have been pulled up for a foul on Milner as the ball broke through the left flank, but the referee played on – while the visitors didn’t. Pantilimon left his line to try and close the angle, but he had no chance as the defender curled the ball around him into the bottom corner to give the hosts the lead.
The goal kicked City into life, but they were still to test Manone by the half hour. Nasri and Kolarov both had shots from the edge of the area blocked, before Negredo tried to volley a cross through the six-yard box, but it was touched behind for a corner. A great cross from Kolarov found the head of Aguero, but he could only nod it wide.
Johnson went down inside the City box as he tried to pass Milner, but the referee waved away the former Blue’s protests and played on. It was the right call, but the visitors needed to be careful not to dive in inside the area.
Five minutes into the second half, the Blues should have been level. Aguero broke away from O’Shea and got to the by-line to cut it back to Navas in the middle. The Spaniard scuffed his shot and it hit Bardsley and he couldn’t poke the rebound past Manone, who gathered easily.
On the hour mark, the game had settled into a pattern of Sunderland defence and City attack – though the Blues were keeping possession without particularly troubling the hosts. In fact, it was them who could have scored again, as Ki wriggled free from Toure to shoot, but it was well wide. Milner responded – his effort clipped Toure and flew over.
With 67 minutes on the clock, Aguero came closest for the Blues since they’d gone behind: He spun on the edge of the area to unleash a shot at the far post. It looked to have been sneaking in until the fingertips of Manone pushed it behind to preserve the hosts’ lead.
City tried to switch it around by introducing Dzeko and Zabaleta, and immediately it almost paid off. Dzeko found space to shoot from 20 yards and Manone parried straight to Aguero – but the Argentine couldn’t adjust his body to volley into the empty net, skewing it wide.
With ten minutes left, City were piling on the pressure. A series of low crosses from Zabaleta and Navas were all cleared – just – by Sunderland legs, before a Kolarov corner was nodded just wide by Dzeko. Aguero tried to stretch to touch it in, but he just couldn’t reach. A Kolarov volley then swerved inches away from the top corner.
In the end, it was too little too late from City – and another 1-0 defeat on Wearside.