David Moyes’ first Premier League game as Sunderland manager ended in defeat as Manchester City struck late on to seal a 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium.
Sunderland threatened to tear up the script and gate-crash Pep’s party on the opening day of the campaign, with Jermain Defoe cancelling out Sergio Aguero’s early penalty on 71 minutes to become the Premier League’s joint 10th highest all-time goalscorer.
But the drama was far from over and with 87 minutes played, a Paddy McNair own goal saw the Black Cats’ battling defence breached, and it proved pivotal as City held on to seal a dramatic three points in Manchester.
New boss Moyes selected a youthful starting XI against the Citizens with Lynden Gooch making his Premier League debut.
New signing Donald Love, who made his top-flight bow against Sunderland, also started at the Etihad Stadium, with John O’Shea lining up in midfield alongside Gooch and Jack Rodwell.
Billy Jones, Lee Cattermole, Jan Kirchhoff and Seb Larsson missed out due to injury.
Sunderland crafted the opening opportunity of the encounter starting with zip and intention.
Targeting out-of-position Aleksandar Kolarov at centre back, Jermain Defoe forced the Serb into an error with Patrick van Aanholt forcing Willy Caballero into a flying save before Duncan Watmore headed over seconds later.
Within seconds, the Black Cats’ momentum was drained.
Raheem Sterling broke the offside trap and tore into the box as van Aanholt slide into his path, bit the England international turned at the perfect moment and the Dutchman’s momentum saw him clatter into the winger.
Aguero stepped up and the Etihad erupted.
Sunderland responded well and mustered their second moment of note with 11 minutes played, Gooch driving to the by-line and flashing the ball across the face of goal where it narrowly evaded Fabio Borini.
But they were soon overpowered by City’s slick passing and fluid movement as Nolito skipped past Love and picked out Aguero before Sterling curled an effort high and wide.
Making Premier League debut, Nolito continued to pose a constant threat with Love failing to shackle the Spaniard as he danced down the left before pulling a cross-shot inches wide.
City’s dominance dwindled as the opening 45 minutes ebbed into its final stages, and with 40 minutes played Sunderland could and possibly should have been level.
The home side failed to clear Gooch’s corner and as the ball looped into the air Kone rose above the masses, diverting it into the path of Defoe who produced a point-blank save from Caballero.
Sunderland continued for frustrate City during the second period limiting their time and space on the ball, but the home side were equally adept defensively and the Black Cats struggled to create.
Jesus Navas’ arrival injected fresh impetus into the City attack and they moved up a gear on the hour mark, with Aguero slamming a half-volley inches wide before Kone blocked a further attempt within 60 seconds.
Like Guardiola, Moyes opted for changes as time ticked down and with 64 minutes he called upon new signing Januzaj who was also joined by Whabi Khazri as Gooch and Watmore were replaced.
The Belgian’s first task was to form part of a two-man wall as international team-mate whistle an effort towards the top corner, but Mannone came out on top to deny City a second and within minutes it proved to be a priceless contribution.
From absolutely nowhere, Rodwell turned on a sixpence and split the City defence in two, finding Defoe who shattered a Premier League record and sent the sell-out away end into raptures.
City replied with barrage after barrage of attack as Sunderland put bodies on the line to keep them out, but with three minutes remaining a cruel twist of fate saw McNair’s debut end in tears.
On for just four minutes, the former Manchester United man was powerless to prevent City’s decisive second as he bundled the ball into his own net.
Like City, Sunderland responded attempting to take something from a brave performance, but it wasn’t to be and they were forced to return to Wearside empty-handed.
Manchester City: Caballero, Sagna, Stones, Kolarov, Clichy (Iheanacho 80), Fernandinho, Silva (Delph 64), De Bruyne, Nolito (Navas 58), Aguero.
Subs not used: Hart, Zabaleta, Fernando, Otamendi.
Sunderland: Mannone, Love, van Aanholt, Kaboul, Kone, O’Shea, Rodwell, Gooch (Khazri 64), Watmore (Januzaj 64), Borini, Defoe (McNair 83).
Subs not used: Pickford, Djilobodji, Lens, Asoro.