The rampant hosts cast aside their recent troubles to post their most commanding performance of the season in a one-sided demolition of the Black Cats
Roberto Mancini rang the changes after his charges were fortunate to escape with a draw in their Champions League match against Dortmund in midweek, including Micah Richards in place of skipper Vincent Kompany, who missed out with a calf knock.
The visitors made just one change from their first victory over the season against Wigan last Saturday with Carlos Cueller in for Titus Bramble in the heart of the Black Cats defence.
|SERGIO THE SUPER SUB
|HOW AGUERO RATED VS SUNDERLAND
|Made an immediate difference when he replaced the lacklustre Balotelli. Demonstrated his great understanding with Tevez and dispatched a fine finish for the second goal. Lifted his side.|
Cueller did not take long to make an impression and it was not one he will remember fondly. With just four minutes gone, the Spaniard loitered too long in possession and only a desperate lunge on Carlos Tevez stopped the Argentinian from having a shot on goal. Cueller was booked for his troubles and then had to watch City defender Kolarov glide a 25-yard free kick with his left foot over the wall and into the roof of the net.
Sunderland found themselves behind for the first time this season but the early setback did not seem to upset them. They are always well organised under Martin O’Neill and soon gained a foothold with Stephane Sessegnon volleying just over from the edge of the box.
City were subdued for long periods in the opening period, but they have the attacking prowess to unlock the stuffiest of rearguards. Kolarov was proving an unlikely danger and almost grabbed his second when McClean deflected a Tevez pass into the Serb’s path, but he shot straight at Simon Mignolet.
Kolarov was more in evidence in the attacking third than in his customary defensive role, and after having a goalbound free-kick appear to strike Craig Gardner on the arm on the edge of the box, he sent a vicious volley just over the bar.
Steven Fletcher had been well marshalled by the City defence, but the Scot, who had scored all Sunderland’s five goals this season, showed his capabilities just after the break with a volley from a tight angle that Richards did well to block.
Normal service was soon resumed, though, and Colback blocked a goalbound Richards header before the defender’s follow-up was cleared off the line by Danny Rose.
City were cranking up the pressure and the subdued Balotelli was just inches away from connecting with a Kolarov cross. It was the Italian’s last action before being replaced by Aguero.
It proved to be an inspired switch as within four minutes, City had doubled their lead. Silva found Kolarov in space on the left and the Serb’s darting cross was met at the front post by the Uruguayan who diverted the ball into the corner of the net from eight yards.
Tevez then pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the box and after Mignolet had been coaxed to close him down, the Argentine picked out Silva who sent a deft chip that struck the bar.
The home side wrapped up the points in injury time when Milner's vicious free-kick from a tight angle dipped and deceived Mignolet in the Black Cats goal to seal a convincing win.