Manchester City 3 Sunderland 2 Match Report
By: Ed Bodey
My first match in quite a while. I was a little nervous heading to it given that we’d lost a 2 goal lead a few days earlier and that Sunderland have proved something of a bogey team in recent times.
The weather was marvellous so dad and I arrived duly soaked! It would at least make for an interesting match, and may actually help City’s crisp passing game we thought. City settled really well and without really carving out any chances looked quite tidy – I think there were maybe 12 mins on the clock before someone other than Pantilimon touched the ball for the Wearsiders.
Poyet had clearly (rightly) thought that he was onto something here last season and so it was predictable that his side was set up to frustrate City and counter attack through Wickham. His team did him proud sticking ridgidly to the game plan but City didn’t help themselves by failing to bring the full backs into play to stretch out Sunderland’s experienced centre back pairing, and by being too slow in the build up. It was crying out for more movement and faster passing. 0-0 at half time.
City emerged with a bit more zip in the second half – Navas having a chance within the first minute. They were starting to use Clichy and Zabaleta more but still struggling to create clear chances. It was no real surprise then that an absolute welly from 20 odd yards was what would break the resistance – Toure duly obliged with an effort that rivalled Aguero’s from the reverse fixture a few weeks back for being past Pantilimon before he really knew.
What followed was madness. A well crafted goal and exquisite finish from Jovetic (the first time his movement and City’s play really clicked) was followed by slack marking at a corner and then a clumsy challenge giving away a penalty that allowed two old boys to score against us. The former player curse had struck again.
2-2. From where I was (and probably with a more than slight blue haze to my glasses) I thought the penalty was harsh but not surprising given Sunderland’s players tendency to go down very easily and the referee’s penchant for giving them soft freekicks (having seen it on MOTD my opinion has changed!). Whilst we’re on that topic, Caballero’s best moment came in the first half keeping out a Larsson freekick moments after Nasri had been sliced down in the Sunderland half. The ground was baying (and MOTD showed that that one was not the ref’s proudest moment).
At 2-2 the Sunderland fans were singing “that’s why we’re Sunderland”. This was nicely met with “that’s why we’re Champions” when Lampard again found space in a crowded penalty area to head a ball that was arching away behind him brilliantly into the bottom corner. Pantilimon had no chance.
From then on City could have had another 6. Pantilimon saved well from Lampard (twice), Navas (twice), Milner and Fernandinho (who should really have scored).
City also nearly scored what would have been an unrivalled effort for goal of the season straight from kick off after Sunderland’s first. Zabaleta, Toure, Fernandinho, Silva and Navas with some wonderful one-touch passing which ended with Navas hitting the post from a narrow angle.
All in all, a great day out with dad.
Caballero – 6. Saved well from freekick. Flapped when challenged by Wickham (offside). Distribution mixed – sometimes volleyed on a six pence, sometimes hurried and played Mangala and Clichy into trouble. Yet to convince me.
Zabaleta – 7. Got forward better second half, intercepted well and got another head injury to go along with his collection.
Demichelis – 7. Read the game well and broke up Sunderland’s attacks. Particularly when the game opened up at 2-2.
Mangala – 6. Reminds me of Demichelis in his early days at City. Tendency to try and win the ball immediately rather than perhaps standing the man up. Still intercepted well and strong in the air, and looked solid. One crucial interception with 5 to go. Sure he’ll continue to improve.
Clichy – 7. Like Zabaleta, frustratingly not involved first half. 2 assists second half helped to turn the game.
Navas – 7. Lots of energy, still sometimes the final ball can frustrate but always an outlet. Tracks back well.
Toure – 7. Touches the ball more than anyone I’ve ever seen in a City shirt. Can strike the ball so cleanly its a thing of beauty. Today was one of those games where he threatened to grab it by the scruff of the neck but never really did other than in patches. Still will undoubtedly be missed this month.
Fernandinho – 7. Dovetails beautifully with Toure. Should have scored.
Nasri – 6. Never really committed his man in the way he has of late. Passes always seemed sideways today.
Silva – 9. Controlled the ball like the driving rain was just a figment of everyone’s imagination. Class above. Heart of all things creative.
Jovetic – 7. Ran around a lot and tried to take on his man in the first half. Tried to make things happen in a very crowded central part of the penalty area but showed what should have been happening with his goal – which he took brilliantly.
Lampard – 7. Scored one. Could have had a hatrick. Tried to calm things down and take some of the sting out of added time.
Kolarov – 6. Quietest of the subs. One strong burst into the area set up a Milner chance.
Milner – 7. Oon for about 10 mins and could have scored 3. Pulled a tired defence around just when it didn’t want to be. Can see why he’s worked well in the front 3 in the last 2 games. Needs to sign a new contract please.