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
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
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
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn