Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City began their bid for Premier League glory with an uninspired 2-1 win against Sunderland on Saturday.
With Guardiola controversially electing to drop England goalkeeper Joe Hart for Willy Caballero, City got off to the perfect start as Raheem Sterling did well to win a penalty in the fourth minute. Sergio Aguero duly stepped up and slotted home.
With City settling into a good passing rhythm the pressure quickly grew on Sunderland. However, an error by Caballero encouraged the Black Cats’ first chance of the game, but the ball failed to find an attacker as it was fired across the box.
City created another chance in the 19th minute as Sterling eventually fired off a shot, but it soared well over the bar following great initial work from Nolito.
Nolito had another effort for City after working some space down the left flank with 24 minutes gone before Sunderland enjoyed their best spell of the game. Jermaine Defoe, in particular, caused the City defence some problems in the air, but neither side proved able to add to the scoring before the half-time interval.
The second period soon adopted the pattern of the first as City took a stranglehold of possession while Sunderland were happy to sit back. It was Aguero who was looking the most threatening as the forward narrowly fired wide on the hour mark.
Kevin De Bruyne had the next chance of the match on 67 minutes as his near-post free kick forced a save from Sunderland shot-stopper Vito Mannone. However, it was Sunderland who grabbed the goal as Defoe’s clever turn and finish drew the Black Cats level with 20 minutes to play.
De Bruyne fired over for City in the 80th minute as City piled on late pressure. Then, with just four minutes remaining, new Sunderland signing Paddy McNair was unfortunate to direct a Jesus Navas cross into his own net.
Kelechi Iheanacho had a late chance to fire in a third, but with his effort saved, City duly took the three points despite an unconvincing display.
Photo: Premier League Website