Darren Bent’s injury time penalty ended City’s unbeaten start to the new season on a disappointing afternoon for Roberto Mancini’s side.
While the Blues bossed the first half, they were under pressure for large parts of the second period, creating little in the way of chances and ultimately paying the price for one astonishing miss by Carlos Tevez.
With City’s fantastic record against Sunderland in the Premier League, the Blues arrived on Wearside hoping to continue not only that run, but the impressive start to the new campaign as well.
With 10 wins, one draw and one defeat in 12 PL meetings, the Black Cats have proved to be lucky opponents for City in recent times. Last season saw Adam Johnson rescue a point in the last minute in the same fixture, but Roberto Mancini would surely have pencilled this in as a possible victory this time around.
With seven changes made for the midweek Europa League victory over FC Timisoara, the City boss reverted to the side that had swept Liverpool aside last Monday with recalls for those who were rested on Thursday.
Despite the relative clear skies, there was a nip in the north east air – as ever – as the teams ran out to a nearly full Stadium of Light and it wasn’t long before it was the sky blue of City who took control of the opening exchanges.
While Sunderland had Lee Cattermole patrolling the midfield, any crunching tackle the feisty home skipper put in was matched with venom by Nigel de Jong, though it is worth noting both men were firm but fair.
City soon picked up where they’d left off against Liverpool and but for an astonishing miss on 15 minutes, would have deservedly gone ahead. A Sunderland free-kick was charged down and Yaya Toure won the loose ball and powered forward.
The Ivorian skipped past two challenges and with just one defender and team-mates James Milner and skipper Tevez to choose from, he slid the ball to Tevez who somehow managed to blaze over from eight yards with an open goal at his mercy.
Yaya was proving too much for the hosts to handle and he was at the centre of most of the Blues’ first half attacks, linking particularly well with Tevez. With Vincent Kompany and Kolo Toure comfortably repeling anything Sunderland could muster and such was their dominance, the home side’s first shot on goal wasn’t until the 34th minute.
Yaya had the last chance of an entertaining first period, seeing his shot at the far post smothered after Milner’s cross had been flicked on by Kompany.
The frenetic pace of the game showed no signs of a let up after the break, though Steve Bruce had clearly demanded his troops up the pace – and up it they did. Joe Hart saw more action in the first 15 minutes after half-time than he had in the previous 45 as the Black Cats began to look menacing.
With City increasingly under the cosh and the home fans turning the volume up to maximum, Mancini decided to bring Emmanuel Adebayor on at the expense of Joleon Lescott – and within four minutes the change almost paid off as Micah Richards header was volleyed goalwards by the Togolese striker, producing a fantastic point-blank save from keeper Simon Mignolet.
With both teams seeming happy with a point, referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot four minutes into injury time after spotting a push in the box. Bent tucked away the penalty to earn Sunderland a rare win over the Blues.