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December 26, 2012
• Stadium of Light, Sunderland
Referee: K. Friend
• Attendance: 42190
A. Johnson 53'
On that note, I'll wrap up - thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed that match as much as I did.
Manchester United have won, and with the season at its halfway point City have a mountain to climb to retain the Premier League title. Today, Sunderland were good value for their victory - they had to defend wonderfully but created numerous opportunities on the break.
The Stadium of Light is rocking. Things are looking up for Sunderland - they've beaten Manchester City at home for the third consecutive season and move up to 13th. It's a disastrous Boxing Day for Roberto Mancini's team, as Manchester United will go seven points clear if they can hold on to their 4-3 lead for a minute or two longer.
FULL-TIME: Sunderland 1-0 Manchester City
90' + 5'
A last corner as Aguero races on to a flick on and sees a shot blocked. But Gardner repels it at the near post and that's that!
90' + 4'
Milner's shot is deflected wide for a corner and Hart is up! Silva takes - it's headed clear to Milner, who volleys well over the bar. That should be it!
90' + 3'
Milner - now at left-back - whips a cross in but Mignolet repels with a fantastic punch.
90' + 2'
Sunderland seem to have weathered the storm, but is there a last chance for City to snatch something? Dzeko controls a long ball for Barry, but the midfielder's low return pass trickles all the way through to Mignolet with Aguero lurking.
Mancini, meanwhile, sends Lescott on for Garcia. An odd one at this point. More bad news for City fans - Manchester United have taken a last-minute 4-3 lead. I've barely had time to look at that score for all the action here. Four added minutes to be played.
Rose, presumably due to exhaustion, comes off to a standing ovation from the home fans. Bardsley is on at left-back.
So close again for Sunderland, who are creating all the chances! This time McClean dashes on to Fletcher's through ball on the left but his powerful strike flashes past Hart's post.
Kolo Toure is replaced by Barry. It looked as if Bardsley was coming on for Sunderland, but we've not seen him yet.
This is incredibly open - Sunderland have decided that going for 2-0 is a better strategy than sitting on their current lead. The longer it takes City to find a way through, though, the more numbers arrive back behind the ball. The champions just aren't finding the killer pass quickly enough.
Glorious opportunity for Campbell, but he wastes it! A ball into the box bobbled and fell to the striker but from 10 yards or so, he side-footed a shot straight at Hart.
Aguero tries to turn Rose after receiving a pass from Yaya Toure in the box, but the left-back forces him wide before tackling a little too aggressively and conceding a free kick. It's easily cleared by the stern Sunderland rearguard, though. Just before that, Kolo Toure had charged forward and found Aguero, but Cuellar made a vital block to deny the Argentine.
Hart saves the day for City! Campbell has all sorts of space with which to pick out Sessegnon with a through ball from the right, but the goalkeeper is out well to save his poked first-time effort. Sunderland nearly won it there.
McClean - who has worked his socks off - is in central midfield now, with Campbell on the right and Johnson left.
Johnson switches the ball right to McClean. He cuts it back for the arriving Rose, but Fletcher deflects the left-back's low shot wide. Fraizer Campbell is replacing Sebastian Larsson - that seems a brave move by O'Neill.
Pass, pass, pass from City outside the Sunderland box but they can't find much penetration. Dzeko's left-footed shot from 20 yards is comfortably collected by Mignolet.
Aguero drives through the middle with intent but his shot is weak and easily saved by Mignolet.
The free kicks have not been of the highest quality today. Colback handballs while blocking a shot 25 yards out, so Milner steps up - only to curl high and wide.
These Sunderland counterattacks are threatening. McClean is again the man doing the hard work defensively and Sessegnon releases Fletcher. McClean is in all kinds of space on the left but Fletcher chooses to shoot and his effort is blocked by Nastasic.
Tevez's day is done - super-sub Dzeko is on for City. The Argentine doesn't look most pleased.
I have to say that Kompany did seem to block Rose's touch with his arm. After that and the bodycheck on McClean, you'd have to say that the City captain is somewhat fortunate to still be on the pitch.
Great save by Mignolet! This is end-to-end stuff. City continue to probe but McClean is released on the counter by Sessegnon. Sessegnon tries to slip in the brilliantly energetic Rose but Kompany blocks the full-back's first touch - with his hand, if you'll believe the home crowd. They're furious as City break back towards Mignolet, and when Aguero is played in on the right by Silva, the goalkeeper needs to come off his line to make a very good save.
Heroic defending by the Black Cats, led by Rose! Tevez's wild cut-back finds Yaya Toure, whose shot is inadvertently controlled by Aguero. His effort of his own from close range is blocked by Cuellar and as the ball comes out to Milner, Rose races across like a bullet to block the winger's attempt.
Gardner's free kick is dangerously flicked on but well headed away by Garcia. The Sunderland fans are hailing their loanee left-back Rose; "Martin, sign him up," is the chant. The youngster has been excellent this season and is having another strong game here.
Kompany is treading a fine line and has just received a final warning from the referee. He bodychecked McClean as the winger tried to cut inside having already been booked earlier on.
City are really feeling the effects of not having full-backs fit to do much attacking. Zabaleta is on his wrong foot on the left, and Kolo Toure is a centre-back by trade. Yaya Toure is dictating things from the centre, but he often doesn't have a wide option to aim at and when he does, very little usually comes of it.
This is manic now. Tevez holds off Rose to slip in Yaya Toure but the left-back recovers with an excellent tackle. Yaya is penalised for fouling Gardner to win the ball back from the subsequent corner.
Another great chance spurned by Sessegnon! The Benin international receives a lovely pass from Gardner and sprays it out to McClean. McClean returns the favour with a superb low cross but Sessegnon can't control the ball in the box and it squirts to Hart.
Yellow Card Matija Nastasic
It gets worse for City - Manchester United have equalised against Newcastle. Nastasic is booked for a very poor challenge from behind on Johnson around the halfway line.
City are back on the attack, but Sunderland are defending bravely. There's a shaky moment when Mignolet drops a cross from Silva, but the goalkeeper quickly recovers to pounce on the loose ball. Sunderland need to get back in possession here.
It should be 2-0 to Sunderland! Sessegnon takes down a high ball on the right and turns Nastasic inside-out, but pulls a dreadful shot well wide of the far post. He really should have hit the target from that range. City are reeling.
Assist Carlos Cuéllar
Goal Adam Johnson
GOAL! JOHNSON GIVES SUNDERLAND THE LEAD! It's a terrible error from Hart, who completely fails to cover his near post. Cuellar steps up and wins the ball and plays it to the winger on the right. He cuts past Silva and drills a low shot that squeezes between Hart and the goalkeeper's near post. His starting position was just not right.
City push Sunderland back with some gradual build-up play, but Cuellar repels Yaya Toure's cross. No way through.
Garcia clears Sessegnon's low cross behind for a corner. Johnson takes and it seems to evade everyone, but Sunderland rather fortunately receive another corner. Nastasic clears well, though, and Fletcher is penalised for a foul on the Serbian.
Yaya Toure meets Silva's delivery but can't keep his header down.
Lovely work from McClean, who digs out the loose ball after Silva's shot had been blocked and releases Sessegnon. Eventually the ball finds its way to Johnson on the right, but Kolo Toure gets rid of his delivery. City break up the other end and win a corner on the left.
And off we go again. Manchester United, if you haven't seen, are 2-1 down to Newcastle. Potentially a big opportunity for City here.
The players are back out at the Stadium of Light. No changes that we can see.
Apologies for the technical problems that plagued the last few minutes of the 45. Second period imminent, and it's finely poised.
Not a classic first half, perhaps, but a competitive and closely-fought one. Sunderland have put up a good fight and City will need to improve in the second half to take the points. They have not repeated their last performance in the North East, when they were superb against Newcastle.
HALF-TIME: Sunderland 0-0 Manchester City
Yellow Card Yaya Touré
After much fuss, Larsson can't get the free kick through the City wall on the first attempt. He smashes the second effort well wide. Disappointing.
Yellow Card Vincent Kompany
Colback is booked after tripping Aguero, but Sunderland are quickly back on the attack. Sessegnon is fouled by Kompany on the edge of the box and the Belgian also receives a yellow card. Free kick on the edge of the box for the Black Cats.
Yellow Card Jack Colback
That was quite brilliant play from City, but they're stopped by a superb tackle by McClean. Some lovely interplay in midfield ended in Silva deftly flicking the ball to Tevez, who wonderfully touched the pass past a defender and raced on to it. McClean arrived with a no-nonsense challenge, though, to stop the Argentine from shooting. Good tracking back.
Kompany makes a vital clearance! Colback clips the ball out to Johnson on the right, who slips in the arriving Larsson. His low cross is a dangerous one but Kompany slides in to clear before Fletcher can pounce.
City continuining to be frustrated by Sunderland's dogged defending. Aguero has provided an outlet, but we've not seen too much from Tevez and Silva in the positions behind him.
Zabaleta - now wearing No.68 - is pushed in the back on the left but Milner's free kick is poor and easily cleared. There's some suggestion, by the way, that Nastasic might have pulled Fletcher down earlier when McClean sent in a cross from deep. Borderline.
Kompany chips a delicate pass towards Tevez but it's just too long for the striker. At the other end, Johnson's cross is deflected to McClean but the winger can't make anything of it. Sunderland are certainly competing here.
Gardner's left-footed cross is flicked on dangerously by Sessegnon, but Fletcher can't direct it goalwards.
Zabaleta is now sporting a sizeable bandage around his head and is still yet to return to the field. Milner cuts in from the left to shoot, but sends the ball well over the crossbar.
Stoppage in play as Zabaleta leaves the field to receive treatment for a cut to his forehead. Fletcher tried to flick the ball in the air behind him and caught the Argentine,who had leaned in for a header, with his studs. All unintentional.
Now it's Hart's turn! Sessegnon nods the ball down to the feet of Fletcher, whose swerving left-footed shot is palmed around the post by the Manchester City goalkeeper. Good save, and the corner comes to nothing.
Great save by Mignolet! Tevez releases Aguero down the left and while Kilgallon slides in to block his shot, it only serves to spring the ball back into the path of Silva. He strikes it first time from close range, but the Belgium goalkeeper reacts well to make a low save.
City are now the team looking to spring counterattacks. Milner aims for Aguero with a crossfield pass but it's too long and Sunderland have the ball back.
This is much better from Sunderland. They play some lovely football in midfield but struggle to find a way through the City defence before Rose's cross is cleared into the stands.
Gardner with one of the worst free kicks of the season. He somehow contrives to shank it miles wide without even getting much power behind it.
Gardner comes forward after an excellent tackle on Silva, but his cross is blocked. Rose picks up the clearance and looks menacing as he shapes to shoot from distance, but he's fouled from behind. Sunderland free kick.
Milner's first delivery is repelled but Kompany keeps the ball in and returns it to the winger. He finds Yaya Toure, who slips in Kompany, but the captain's unorthodox shot - from a very good position it must be said - is blocked.
Aguero chases a Silva pass down the right and brilliantly jinks past Kilgallon. His low cross back towards Tevez is blocked, though. City corner.
City are trying to punch a hole through the middle and not having much luck. Silva is on the ball often, twisting and turning and looking for a team-mate, but there's not enough width to the champions' play. Again, the Spaniard gives the ball away carelessly, and Sunderland could counter from those sort of mistakes.
Yaya Toure roams forward and slips a pass to Aguero. He returns the ball to the midfielder, whose curling shot is caught and held by Mignolet.
Silva weaves into space and crosses from the right, but it evades everyone and is cleared. City win the ball straight back and they'll come back on the attack. The visitors are in control.
Silva curls it high and wide. Disappointing from the Spaniard.
Milner knocks the ball between Colback and Larsson and is held back from retrieving it just outside the Sunderland box. City cranking up the pressure and here's a good chance to hit the target for Silva.
What a chance! City so close to taking the lead - twice. After Larsson blocked Zabaleta's cross, the subsequent corner from the left is flicked against the bar by Kompany at the near post. Yaya Toure pounces on the rebound but Mignolet makes a brilliant save with his leg to deny the Ivorian's drive.
Gardner sends in a fairly aimless free kick after Garcia fouled Fletcher in the middle of the park, but Hart drops it - luckily it bounces out of his gloves to safety. Shaky moment for England's No.1.
Johnson's inswinging free kick clears the wall but not the first man behind it, and is headed clear.
Colback swings a pass out to Johnson, who jinks past Zabaleta and is tripped. Free kick to Sunderland on the right.
It's Kolo Toure at right-back and Zabaleta at left-back for City, as expected. Silva on the left wing with Milner opposite. Sunderland are in their usual 4-4-1-1 with Sessegnon off Fletcher.
Silva gives the ball away in midfield and Sessegnon breaks through the middle. He sends it wide to Johnson, but Garcia blocks the cross from the right. Then it's City's turn to push, and Milner's cross is well cut out by Cuellar with Aguero lurking.
And we're off.
Matt Scott reports from the Stadium of Light: "The last player to score for Manchester City at Sunderland was... Adam Johnson. The winger will probably be keen to strike again this afternoon and prove himself to Roberto Mancini."
The teams are out and we're nearly ready to start on Wearside. Carlos Cuellar captains Sunderland in the absence of John O'Shea.
Manchester City's set of Christmas fixtures from here appears more daunting than their rivals United's. City visit Norwich, who are in excellent form at home, after this before hosting resolute Stoke. United, on the other hand, are at home to Newcastle and West Brom before travelling to Wigan.
It might also be worth keeping an eye on the Sunderland left flank. Danny Rose - who has been excellent this season - and James McClean will aim to get the better of the sometimes-shaky Kolo Toure, who looks set to start at right-back. He should be given adequate protection by the disciplined James Milner, however.
One player to watch today is Sunderland winger Adam Johnson. Martin O'Neill dished out around £10 million to bring him back to the North East after a largely unhappy spell at the Etihad Stadium. He's not hit the heights Black Cats fans might have been hoping for in red and white so far, but he has an axe to grind today.
Sunderland have actually won this particular fixture two seasons in a row. They have lost 11 of their last 15 matches against City, however, drawing the other two.
Matt Scott reports from the Stadium of Light: "As is often the case with Manchester City, it's uncertain just exactly how they will line up at the Stadium of Light today. Matija Nastasic may be featuring at left-back in a 4-4-2, or it could be time to dig out the back-three klaxon, with the youngster playing alongside Kolo Toure and the returning Vincent Kompany, with James Milner and Pablo Zabaleta as wing-backs. Up front it's a lot more straightforward. Carlos Tevez is alongside Sergio Aguero, with the champions having won every game the Argentine pair have started together this season."
Sunderland: Mignolet; Gardner, Kilgallon, Cuellar, Rose; Johnson, Larsson, Colback, McClean; Sessegnon; Fletcher. Subs: Westwood, Bardsley, Campbell, Wickham, McFadden, Vaughan, Bramble.
Manchester City: Hart; Kolo Toure, Kompany, Nastasic, Zabaleta; Milner, Garcia, Yaya Toure, Silva; Aguero, Tevez. Subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Rekik, Barry, Razak, Sinclair, Dzeko.
Here, if you haven't already seen them, are the teams...
City are in an intriguing position. They trail Manchester United by four points but you sense they have another gear to get into yet. There has also been rumblings of a serious move to come in January, with the likes of Falcao and Neymar linked, but much seems to depend there on the future of Mario Balotelli.
Things haven't been too rosy in any respect for Sunderland in 2012-13. Wins over Southampton and Reading have lifted them up to 15th in the Premier League for now, but they'll certainly be hoping for a more positive 2013.
Unfortunately for Ji, he's not gone from strength-to-strength since then. He didn't score again all season and hasn't played at all during the current campaign.
This was quite the memorable match nearly 12 months ago. On New Year's Day, Ji Dong-Won scored with virtually the last kick of the match to hand Sunderland a 1-0 victory over the team that would, eventually, be champions.
Good afternoon, Merry Christmas and welcome to Goal.com's live text commentary of this afternoon's Premier League match between Sunderland and Manchester City at the Stadium of Light.
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