After Wednesday’s Champions League workout, the England keeper enjoyed a rest in the first half as Sunderland offered him no test whatsoever. Remained alert, though, with a good save from the offside Fletcher early in the second.
Enjoyed getting forward as McClean offered little resistance and perhaps should have scored as he found his way into great positions in the box twice in quick succession.
Enhanced his reputation as possibly the best striker of a dead ball in the Premier League by blasting his fifth-minute free kick home. Johnson, looking to cut in on the rare occasions that the ball came his way, did little to prevent him getting forward. Tackled calmly and competently.
So close to scoring on his return to first-team action, with a shot cleared off the line by Rose and multiple headed opportunities denied. Rarely troubled by Sunderland in his defensive duties and played with real enthusiasm. Visibly delighted to be back.
A nervy moment at the start of the game when he gave the ball away to a high-pressing Sunderland was quickly forgotten as Kolarov’s free kick put the game firmly in City’s control and the centre-back calmed down. Struggled a little against Fletcher but never exploited.
Robust in the first half and, as so often happens, grew into the match in an attacking sense after the break. Larsson, Colback and Vaughan could not get near him in the middle.
A very strong defensive performance as the England man, replacing Javi Garcia in the starting line-up. Solid in passing and generally unruffled.
This was the kind of game for which Milner is made, when he can physically outmatch the opposition left-back and power up and down the right flank, but still no more than one or two useful crosses. Overlapped well with Zabaleta, who took more of the attacking duties. His late free kick for the third goal was well struck, however, despite Mignolet's poor reaction.
Unspectacular – Sunderland did not often demand the spectacular from him – but always an undercurrent of threat and some important passes. Very unlucky to see his long-range attempt at a City third crash against the crossbar. Substituted after the third goal.
Visibly frustrated by the away side’s very physical approach towards him and responded with some irritating play-acting but posed some danger with some precise passes forward to Tevez when Sunderland gave him space. Quiet overall, however, and replaced early in the second period by Aguero - about which he seemed quite unhappy.
Seemed to be toying with the Black Cats somewhat, knowing that he could exploit a somewhat shaky defence. Drew the foul for Kolarov’s goalscoring free kick well and linked up with Aguero as if second nature when his countryman came on. Brought off towards the end after a fine shift.
A good save from Zabaleta in the first half but too far away from Kolarov’s free kick, which was closer to the middle of the goal than the corner. After the break, more occasional saves but powerless for Aguero and poor at Milner's goal.
Struggled against Silva as he drifted infield and Richards as the full-back bombed on, was substituted fairly early in the second half as Martin O'Neill looked to shore up that flank.
More solid than Cuellar but still shaky, with one or two poor touches that could have been pounced upon.
His poor tackle on Tevez brought the free kick from which City opened the scoring and barely looked more comfortable since. The Argentine had his number all day.
Subdued in the extreme. Too easily shrugged off the ball by City and virtually invisible when Zabaleta came forward from deep.
The (very) occasional testing cross made him look a cut above his fellow midfielders but just could not become involved enough in the game.
Frequently overphysical in the challenge as he struggled to deal with Balotelli in particular but committed in defence and made one particularly important interception in the box. OK for a right-back whose more natural position is in midfield - his touch on Milner's free kick was unlucky.
Clearly wanted to make an impact against the club who he felt did not utilise him enough, one fiercely struck free kick bursting with desire to emulate Kolarov, but was mostly quiet. Very rarely did the ball get to him and he was withdrawn with just over 20 minutes left.
Barely any opportunity to get into the game but when he did, there was little on show. One very tricky snapshot that he understandably hit over the bar but more often his passes were overhit. Brought off late.
Lucky that City didn’t punish him when Zabaleta’s first-half chance came from him dwelling too much on the ball. Outmuscled by Barry and Toure and booked for a poor challenge when moved to left-back in the second half.
Impressive in hold-up play but not given enough first-half service to display more than his strength – and, on form though he may be, Fletcher is not a one-man match for the holders’ back line. Looked occasionally dangerous in the second when some crosses started coming his way.
Replaced the out-of-his-depth Rose but could not offer a great deal, his corners being well dealt-with by the City defence.
Brought on to play just behind Fletcher, the former Manchester United man's hostile reception on his arrival was the most notable thing to happen to him. Unable to make any impact.