Sunderland 1 Manchester City 0 match report: Rejuvenated Phil Bardsley adds to City’s away day blues

City have lost four away league fixtures already this season

Stadium of Light

There was much being made of the fourth successive defeat Manchester City have suffered at the Stadium of Light following another truly surprising result yesterday. What mattered more was that this was the fourth time City have lost away from home in the Premier League this season, and we have not even passed November.

To put that into context, City lost only five times away from the Etihad Stadium on their way to the title under Roberto Mancini in 2012. That same season, Manchester United lost three times away and ended the season level on points with their neighbours.

It feels even more like a damning indictment of a team who must rely on the mediocrity of those challenging for this year’s title still to be in the frame when you consider where they have now lost: Cardiff City (14th), Aston Villa (11th), Chelsea (4th) and now Sunderland (19th), again by the same 1-0 scoreline they had lost by on those three previous visits north.

That made no more sense yesterday than it did in the previous three seasons, at least not statistically. City had more than two thirds of the game’s possession. They out-shot their hosts 23 to five and the corner count came in at a quite amazing 14-0, yet that overlooks the bravery of Sunderland and the chronic lack of wit shown by Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

City had more than 70 minutes to find an answer to the question Sunderland posed, and the fact that Vito Mannone was nowhere near being the home side’s most significant player spoke bundles.

“I’m concerned because we are losing too many points away,” said Pellegrini. “Of course it is very difficult if you don’t win to fight for the Premier League but we are not playing badly. We must improve and I’m sure we are going to win. They had just one chance on our goal. We had the possession and the chances and we didn’t score.”

For those 70 minutes, City trailed to a goal from Phil Bardsley, fashioned when the defender outmuscled Martin Demichelis to the point of illegality to set up a tight-angled one-on-one with Costel Pantilimon. Pellegrini raged after Joe Hart’s mistake at Chelsea, which resulted in one of those four defeats, and he has not played since; yesterday his replacement was also culpable for a goal from which his side could not recover. He turned to the side as the shot came at him.

Sunderland had their lead and Bardsley’s rejuvenation became another bit more remarkable. The defender, an outcast under Paolo di Canio, ran to the point of cramp against Newcastle, scored against Southampton in the Capital One Cup in midweek, and has now scored the winner against City. Sunderland have won three successive home games for the first time in almost two years. It lent itself to a mood of delirium on Wearside, even if they are still second bottom of the table.

Sergio Aguero at least threatened with purpose to break that deadlock but after him there was little comfort for City. Indeed, it was only when Alvaro Negredo was replaced by Edin Dzeko in the 71st minute that the visitors carried a more purposeful threat. With his first touch, Dzeko brought a stinging save from Mannone; he headed wide in the 80th minute. But for all the late pressure, there were no major scares. That was in part due to an excellent performance by Sunderland defender  Wes Brown, making his first appearance in two seasons.

“For the fans, the club, the history is more important to beat the rivals but in terms of opposition quality, world-class players, this is the biggest win in my career,” said Gus Poyet, the Sunderland manager. “It’s going to be a good evening tonight, without any doubt. I don’t know how my heart is!

“I am so pleased for the players. They need to believe. It is easy to talk. We can say things and you can write but this new way of playing is working. We need to defend proper and we need to do it all the time. We have won three games in a row. It gives you the home strength that is so important to stay up. Now the table looks OK. Three hours ago it looked awful and we had to play Manchester City!”

Poyet had reckoned without history, and the failings away from home of the team he was facing. City must head to Tottenham, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton in 2014. That run looks even more daunting now.

Sunderland (4-1-4-1): Mannone 6; Celutska 6, O'Shea 7, Brown 8, Bardsley 7; Ki 7; Giaccherini 6 (Gardner 72, 3), Larsson 7, Colback 6, Johnson 7 (Borini 87); Fletcher 7 (Altidore 77, 3).

Manchester City (4-4-2): Pantilimon 5; Richards 6 (Zabaleta 71, 3), Lescott 5, Demichelis 5, Toure 6, Garcia 5 (Navas 46, 6), Nasri 5; Negredo 5 (Dzeko 71, 4), Agüero 7.

Referee: Mike Dean 7

Man of the match: Brown (Sunderland)

Match rating: 6/10

Att: 40,137

The managers Manuel Pellegrini (left) and Gus Poyet look on The managers Manuel Pellegrini (left) and Gus Poyet look on

For Premier League Sunday - as it happened, CLICK HERE

Suggested Topics
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
people
Sport
SPORT
News
people
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Biggins as Mrs Smee in Peter Pan
theatreHow do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick