Scorer: Sunderland - Bardsley (21)
Where City were ponderous and toothless, Sunderland were resolute in defence and pacy and direct on the counter. The visitors started positively and Scotland full-back Bardsley had to make an important header to deny Alvaro Negredo a seventh-minute header at goal from Aleksander Kolarov’s cross, and Mannone plucked James Milner’s long-range drive out of the air seconds later.
However, the home side might have gone ahead when Sebastian Larsson picked out Steven Fletcher with an inviting cross, but the Scotland international sent his header wide.
Larsson was fortunate to escape further punishment for a late challenge on Javier Garcia, and the City man’s mood was not improved when he was booked for a later challenge on Fletcher. But by that point, the Black Cats were ahead. Wes Brown floated the ball over the top for Bardsley to shake off Milner before cutting inside and curling a shot across goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon.
Sunderland created a series of half-chances to increase their lead, while City failed to seriously trouble the hosts’ goal in the first half. Manager Manuel Pellegrini decided enough was enough and replaced defensive midfielder Javi Garcia with winger Jesus Navas after the break, and the newcomer almost made an immediate impact, crossing for Alvaro Negredo to send a looping header over.
Navas might have equalised himself within five minutes of his arrival when Sergio Aguero outpaced John O’Shea and pulled the ball back to him, but Bardsley made a vital block.
Ki Sung-Yueng came close at the other end when he blasted a right-foot shot just wide.
Late on, City substitute Edin Dzeko forced a flying save from Vito Mannone with Aguero unable to make the most of the rebound. Gus Poyet’s charges weathered a relentless assault as full-time approached, but with Brown marshalling his forces outstandingly at the back there was simply no way through for City.