The Black Cats triumph over City to ease relegation pressure.
Watch official highlights from the match here.
Manuel Pellegrini saw Manchester City’s troubles on the road continue as they slid to a surprise 1-0 defeat at struggling Sunderland, their fourth reverse in six Premier League away games this season.
A first-half winner from former Manchester United defender Phil Bardsley underlined the stark contrast in fortunes enjoyed by City this term.
They boast a 100 percent record from their five home games, but have now taken just four points from a possible 18 on their travels, with Sunday’s loss meaning they missed an opportunity to climb into the top three.
In-form forward Sergio Aguero drew a first blank in seven games, but the Argentinian was not alone among those in blue to experience a day to forget, as Sunderland deservedly earned a victory to pull within three points of safety.
It was only their second league win of the season, but their third in four games in all competitions as they continue to show signs of life under new coach Gus Poyet.
City have now lost by the only goal on their last four visits to Wearside, with Sunderland’s winner on Sunday coming in the 21st minute.
Wes Brown’s searching ball from the back met the run of Bardsley, and when the full-back brushed-off the challenge of James Milner he was left with time and space to break the deadlock from a narrow angle with a composed finish into the bottom corner past Costel Pantilimon, again preferred by City manager Pellegrini to England’s Joe Hart.
After scoring in the midweek League Cup victory over Southampton, it was the first time in his 10-year career the Scotland international had found the net in back-to-back domestic games.
In addition to his valuable goal assist, Brown, in his first Premier League start for almost two years thanks to an injury-plagued spell since joining from Manchester United in 2011, added a calming influence so often lacking at the back for Sunderland this season.
Nevertheless, City still squandered several good chances, notably before half-time when Aguero, with nine goals in his previous six outings, met an Aleksandar Kolarov cross unmarked at the far post, only to head wide from inside the six-yard box.
In the second half, Aguero dispossessed John O’Shea before advancing into the area to cut-back for Kolarov, who looked certain to level from fewer than 12 yards until Bardsley underlined his value at both ends with a goal-line block as the Black Cats shut-out a side that had scored 12 goals in its previous two games.
Sunderland benefited from some eye-catching service from both flanks, and from one such centre from the Swedish midfielder Seb Larsson, Steven Fletcher, the Scot preferred to Jozy Altidore as a lone forward, should have done better with a header.
To their credit, Sunderland refused to sit back in an attempt to defend their lead, and Ki Sung Yueng fired just wide after bursting forward from midfield to try his luck from the edge of the area.
Vito Mannone cemented a fully merited clean sheet on his full Sunderland league debut thanks to a fine save low to his left late on from Aguero.
Substitute Edin Dzeko headed wide from a corner at the death, and when Kolarov raked the side-netting from distance, Sunderland, roared on by a vociferous 40,000 Stadium of Light crowd, had deservedly hung on for a crucial win which could have repercussions at both ends of the table come May.
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