Saturday 06, October 2012
City keep it clean to see off Sunderland
City’s slow but progressive start to defending their Premier League title was a much more encouraging display against Martin O’Neill’s side, as they continued their unbeaten start to the 2012-13 campaign, whilst also furthering their impressive home record to 33 games unbeaten in the League.
Goals from Aleksandar Kolarov, Sergio Aguero and James Milner sealed the win for the home side, but Roberto Mancini will be even more impressed at the performance of his defence, who despite losing Vincent Kompany to injury, managed to keep their first clean sheet of season.
Recently known for their sluggish starts, City made sure they were quick off the mark in the lunchtime fixture as they applied an attacking mentality right from the kick off.
Returning Sunderland defender Carlos Cuellar was on hand to prevent an early advance from the hosts, but a risky tackle from the Spaniard landed him with a yellow card for his efforts and a subsequent free kick to the hosts just outside the box.
A trademark Kolarov free kick gave City an early lead in the opening five minutes as he curled the ball over a non-existent wall to make it 1-0 with his third goal in four games for the Blues.
A terrible start for the Black Cats laid the foundations for the rest of the game as their inability to keep hold of the ball added to City’s dominance.
Ambitious efforts from Mario Balotelli and Kolarov went high and wide of Mignolet’s goal to keep it at 1-0 midway through the first half. Pablo Zabeleta was, however, able to produce a fine save out of the Belgium keeper with his shot from point blank range being smashed at the hands of the away keeper.
Sunderland had to wait until the latter stages of the game to test Joe Hart at the other end, Steven Fletcher seeing his shot saved comfortably by the England keeper to prevent the forward converting his fifth of the season. The Scotsman then forced Hart into another save shortly afterwards, but the keeper collected the ball at ease as his side remained in front going into the break.
As the second half got underway, City resumed with their dominance despite an early shot from Fletcher which was blocked by returning defender Micah Richards.
Yaya Toure quickly replied seconds later after lovely link-up play with David Silva. An exquisite back heel from the Spaniard into the Sunderland box was met by Toure, who fired his shot at Mignolet who could only parry the ball over the net.
The resulting corner was curled in by Milner who picked out Richards. His header was on target before being cleared poorly back to him only for his second attempt to force a better goal-line clearance from Danny Rose.
Richards was on hand again to try and double his side’s lead with a header from another James Milner corner forcing Mignolet into a stretched scramble.
But it wasn’t long until City were 2-0 up in this dictated performance. Kolarov’s corner kick floated into the box and landed at the feet of substitute Aguero, who converted from a few yards to double the lead. This was the Argentine’s first goal at the Etihad since his league title winning goal against QPR in May.
His fellow countryman Carlos Tevez then contributed well to a Silva attempt at goal. Tevez outpaced Cuellar before passing Mignolet who came off his line to prevent a third. In doing so an empty net was left wide open, Tevez squared the ball to Silva who had attempted to convert, but only managed to hit the crossbar which denied his efforts.
Sunderland responded with a rare attack which forced a corner. The set-piece was met by the back of Gareth Barry’s neck, which could have easily made it 2-1, only for Hart to punch the ball out whilst colliding with Sessegnon in the process.
Towards the end of the second half, much of which was played in the Sunderland half, City had successive corners that on both attempts were met by Richards. His first attempt being parried out by Mignolet, then the second being an audacious overhead kick which went well over.
In the dying minutes of the game Mancini brought on Gael Clichy for Tevez, a clear message that indicated the importance of a clean sheet for the Italian manager.
Kolarov, who already had a goal and an assist to his name, nearly doubled his tally but forced a corner instead. Indeed, his first attempt, which hit Craig Gardner, may well have been a penalty as the ball came off the midfielder’s arm.
Kolarov was again involved in the build up to city’s third goal as he was fouled by Gardner on the edge of the visitors box, the former Birmingham City player receiving a yellow card. Milner converted the free kick from an acute angle to return his side to the title winning form of last season. A slight deflection from Gardner tipped the ball past Mignolet’s reaches, to end a dismal game for the visitors, who nearly conceded a fourth in injury time, but Aguero couldn’t convert his chance.
A massive performance from the Blues will be encouraging for Mancini going into the international break. A clean sheet, three goals and a strong control on the game, not to mention an important victory, should hopefully give City the confidence they need to reproduce similar displays against their next opponents, West Brom.
Each player in the team couldn’t put a foot wrong in this game, and so this result will remind many critics of who Manchester City are. Normality seems to have been resumed at the Etihad, but consistency will be the key in the upcoming weeks.
Sunderland, will however be disappointed with their overall performance, as they just didn’t show up. Minimal possession and only glimpses of an attacking threat saw them have only four attempts on target throughout the entire game.
Their next opponents are unlikely to display much sympathy either. Newcastle United will look to inflict successive defeats on their North East rivals next weekend.
Quays News Man of the Match – James Milner – The English midfielder was simply outstanding. The former Villa man was on hand for most crosses into the box, which was were City hit Sunderland hard, gaining 15 corners. A superb free kick, to wrap up the game.
Manchester City: Hart 6, Zabeleta 7, Lescott 6, Richards 7, Kolarov 8, Milner 8, Yaya Toure 8, Barry 6, Silva 8 (Rodwell 5), Tevez 7 (Clichy 6), Balotelli 6 (Aguero 8). Not Used: Pantilimon, Dzeko, Nasri, Kolo Toure
Sunderland – Mignolet 7, Gardner 6, O’Shea 5, Cuellar 5, Rose 6 (Vaughn 5), Johnson 5 (Saha 5), Larsson 6, Collback 5, Sessegnon 5 (Campbell 5), Fletcher 6. Not Used: Westwood, Killgallon, Meyler, Bramble
Booked: Gardner, Cuellar, Collback
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