Manchester City cruised to a 2-0 victory over Sunderland this afternoon, outclassing David Moyes’ men and leaving them firmly rooted at the bottom of the Premier League.
Sunderland started the game with a high tempo, applying pressure to the City defence when they were in possession. The tactic almost created an opening after just five minutes, with Sunderland winning the ball high up the pitch. Billy Jones escaped the attentions of Gael Clichy on the right hand side, but his low cross evaded Jermain Defoe.
City, as expected, were seeing an awful lot of the ball but Sunderland’s organisation – spearheaded by the perpetual Didier Ndong – prevented them from creating any early openings.
Adnan Januzaj was impressive early on, showing a willingness to run at the City defence. On 18 minutes he bamboozled the entirety of their back four, but once again the final ball was lacking.
Just two minutes later, Sunderland were a lick of paint away from taking the lead. Some tidy interplay found Defoe 25 yards from goal, and his turn and shot beat the despairing dive of Caballero. The ball rebounded off the post, and Fabio Borini couldn’t divert the rebound into the empty net.
Sunderland continued to maintain a furious tempo, but were finding it difficult to retain possession, particularly when winning the ball back in their own half. On 37 minutes, the game's first clear-cut chance fell to the visitors. The dangerous Leroy Sane broke free of Jones and was left with a seemingly simple square ball to leave David Silva with a tap in, but the German overcooked his pass.
Five minutes later City did take the lead, with Sergio Aguero completing a move that was started by Caballero. Aguero timed his run to the near post expertly, getting across Lamine Kone to prod Raheem Sterling’s cross past Jordan Pickford. It was harsh on Sunderland, who had defended well for the most part of the first half.
Sunderland started the second half well, forcing a corner within two minutes of the restart with some early pressure. It became obvious not long after however that The Black Cats could not keep up the tempo for the majority of the second half.
City had started to cruise by the time Silva let fly from the edge of the area on 57 minutes. Pickford made a comfortable save, but two minutes later he was powerless to prevent The Citizens from doubling their advantage.
Once again Silva was pivotal to City’s fluid build up, picking the ball up in the centre of the park and transforming possession into a deadly attack in a flash. His pass to Sane was perfectly timed and perfectly weighted, and the pacey wide-man surged clear of Billy Jones and fired clinically across Pickford and in off the post.
The second goal completely deflated Sunderland, and from that point on City were in cruise control. The high tempo and pressing had evaporated, and City were left to enjoy a stroll of a second half. A couple of second half changes from David Moyes – Rodwell and Khazri for Gibson and Januzaj - did nothing to revitalise an outfit that looked spent.
In the last ten minutes, City could feasibly have scored three more. De Bruyne blazed over from the edge of the area and Pickford twice denied Aguero, with the second save a particularly impressive one. Sunderland did have the ball in the net themselves through Defoe on 83 minutes after latching onto Kone’s header from a corner, but was rightly ruled to be offside.
Sunderland’s first half performance was spirited and organised, but the second saw them run out of steam, intensity and any belief the first 45 minutes had given them.