Richards strike saves Robinho blushes

Manchester City 1 Sunderland 0

Manchester City remain upwardly mobile, their seventh straight home win in all competitions suggesting that seventh place in the table might be their destiny, but you wonder more as the weeks go by whether the man who was to have been central to the Arab owners' project for the club will be present on the onward journey.

The word from the Robinho camp is that the Brazilian is quite satisfied in Manchester, though there have been no goals since December and the insipid nature of a missed penalty – a shimmy, a half-shot and goalkeeper Marlon Fulop barely needing to strain a sinew – summed up his afternoon.

What did Mark Hughes think of an individual commanding £160,000 a week placing a shot well within Fulop's grasp when staring into the whites of his eyes in the closing stages? The City manager's gaze to the skies and rueful exchanged glance with his assistant, Mark Bowen, told us. It was a lifetime from that breathtaking, looped goal in similar circumstances against Arsenal in November, though Hughes insisted his player is not lacking self-belief.

"He was confident enough to take the ball for the penalty," he said. "He is always of that positive frame of mind and had desire to make amends later."

Hughes could, however, take comfort from Micah Richards, whose star has been fading for 12 months but whose bulldozing runs have been restored of late and were rewarded with his first goal since the one he got for England against Israel in September 2007. "He has been lacking confidence but we forget sometimes he is only 20 years of age," Hughes said. "He will have fluctuations in form but seems to be coming good."

Elano also impressed, providing the cross from which Richards rose unhindered by Sunderland's Calum Davenport to head home. But the afternoon was unconvincing, turning on the 15th-minute decision of the referee, Steve Tanner, to dismiss Sunderland's George McCartney for the faintest pull on Shaun Wright-Phillips as he chased a ball which seemed out of his control. The penalty, five minutes later, was more clear-cut, Steed Malbranque scything into Richards.

The defeat leaves Sunderland, who failed to produce a shot on Shay Given's goal, scrabbling around in a relegation dogfight worsened by Portsmouth and Stoke's wins. "We could have done with getting something decent today," Sbragia said.

Goal: Richards (56) 1-0.

Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Given; Richards (Garrido, 82), Onuoha, Dunne, Zabaleta; Kompany (Fernandes, 84), De Jong; Wright-Phillips, Elano, Robinho; Bojinov (Bellamy, 64). Substitutes not used: Hart (gk), Evans, Etuhu, Berti.

Sunderland (4-5-1): Fulop; Bardsley, Collins, Ferdinand, McCartney; Edwards, Whitehead, Leadbitter, Murphy (Davenport, 16), Malbranque (Reid, 72); Jones (Cissé, 72). Substitutes not used: Gordon (gk), Yorke, Healy, McShane.

Referee: S Tanner (Somerset).

Booked: Manchester City Bojinov, Fernandes Wright-Phillips; Sunderland Bardsley, Davenport, Leadbitter, Reid.

Sent off: Sunderland McCartney (15).

Man of the match: Richards.

Attendance: 43,017.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea