Cats ruin City’s Christmas.The last Man City player to score at the Stadium of Light was Adam Johnson, and the last two games here against City have ended in a 1-0 to the Lads.
The only change that Sunderland made from the winning performance at Southampton was that John O’Shea, who had succumbed to an illness, was replaced by Matt Kilgallon, who made his first appearance of last season against City.
Sunderland may have conceded an early goal as City hit the bar with not long gone in the game. Vincent Kompany rose above his man from an out swinging corner and his header looped over Mignolet and hit the top of the bar. The ball then fell to Yaya Toure who, six yards out, fired the ball towards the far corner but Mignolet’s reaction save with his leg blocked the shot.
The first sign that City were starting to get nervous was when David Silva blazed over from free kick in a position that he normally scores from. Sunderland had compiled a 6 man wall but it wasn’t needed as Mignolet watched the ball sail over. Yaya Toure then had a curling effort well caught by the excellent Simon Mignolet.
City continued their early dominance when £38m forward Sergio Aguero powered through the Sunderland defence and tapped the ball to Silva. The Spaniard, who was two yards out, poked his shot towards Mignolet and the Belgian made himself big and blocked the ball.
Sunderland then came back into the game and with their first proper chance; it could have easily been a goal. Sessegnon managed to head the ball down to Steven Fletcher. From the edge of the box, the 8 goal striker volleyed the ball and it took a good diving save from England No.1 Joe Hart to keep the ball out.
Manchester City were held back as Sunderland cranked up late first half pressure. Zabaleta, who suffered a head injury caused by Fletcher’s stud, was beaten by ex- City winger Johnson and Larsson found himself in the box. His cross was cleared by Kompany but if the Belgian hadn’t blocked it, the ball would have gone to Fletcher at the back post.
The second half started in the same fashion as the first half had finished. On 53 minutes, Sunderland were rewarded with a goal. Gardner won the ball back from Zabaleta and fed the ball to Johnson who, after beating his man, cut inside and curled an ambitious shot towards the front post. An uncharacteristic mistake from Hart saw the ball hit his arm and trickle into the bottom corner. This caused huge un-happiness for City as they felt Zabaleta had been fouled by Gardner in the build up. However, it was a 50-50 ball. But for Sunderland the Stadium erupted into a cauldron of noise when they realised it went in.
A one goal advantage could have turned to two when Sessegnon turned the City defence inside out and was through but dragged his shot wide of the right post. He could have squared the ball to either Larsson or Fletcher but had every right to take Hart on.
City now built up the pressure and got through the well organised Sunderland rearguard. Aguero managed to get a shot inside the box but it was blocked by the on rushing Cuellar and then Milner, who has scored 5 in 13 against the Lads, saw his shot blocked by the leg of the fantastic Danny Rose.
As the second half went on, City pushed desperately for an equalizer. Silva put through Aguero and it looked like it could by 1-1 but Mignolet again made himself big and saved the ball. The tiring Seb Larsson then made way for Frazier Campbell.
Campbell was involved in the next Sunderland move with just over 10 minutes to go. He played a perfectly weighted ball to Sessegnon which cut the defence open but the Benin striker’s toe poke was blocked on the edge of the box by Hart.
The Lads again managed to hit City on the break. This time McClean had a clear run on goal but fired his shot wide when it would have been simpler to pass to Sessegnon, who had an open goal if McClean had passed.
Joe Hart came up for two corners in the 4 minutes added but City couldn’t carve out any chances which meant when Kevin Friend blew his whistle, the 40,000 Sunderland fans erupted into celebrations.
The Lads put their bodies on the line all through the game and arguably could and should have won by a bigger margin. City may argue that as well but they were too soft in front of goal and never really forced Mignolet into a top save.
This win takes Sunderland 13th halfway through the season. The Lads have now won three of their last four Premier League games and that run could continue as Sunderland have another home game on Saturday against 4th placed Spurs.
Simon Mignolet, Craig Gardner, Danny Rose, Carlos Cuellar, Matt Kilgallon, Seb Larsson, Jack Colback, James McClean, Adam Johnson, Stephane Sessegnon and Steven Fletcher.