As we all said two years ago during our EPL Championship clinching win over QPR “City never do it the easy way”, and boy was that ever true today.
The fairytale beginning was not to be as former City player Adam Johnson put a pass through nine minutes in to Borini, who was able to convert. 0-1 Sunderland. The goal from Sunderland didn’t seem to wake City up, as a packed-in Sunderland continued to counter when given the opportunity. Borini almost doubled his tally as he beat the offside trap from the back line. Only a great effort from Vinnie denied the Italian his second goal. Towards the end of the half City looked to be taking advantage of their domination of possession getting better looks at goal. It was tough sledding for City though as Sunderland continued to pack the box and closed any gaps that City might have exploited. But, with 45 minutes left to get back into the game, City went into the dressing room to find a way through.
To open the second half, City looked full of intent, and took the game to Sunderland early. On what looked like a cross, but turned out to be a shot, Yaya scored an absolute beauty from outside the box. His shot found the upper 90, which was completely out of the reach of Vito Mannone, who could only watch it go in. As City have done on a number of occasions this year, they quickly doubled their tally. Nasri latched onto a buzzing cross from Kolarov and one-timed it into the back of the net. This two-goal flurry was just what the doctor ordered for City, as the first goal opened up the field for City. Sunderland continued to put the pressure on City to get a goal back, but second half substitution Navas put the game out of reach. Toure found the streaking Navas who one-timed it past Mannone. This finished a great counter attack that started with a great tackle by Fernandinho. 3-1 to City.
This was a great, character testing effort from our boys today, as the game looked to have the same feel as our 1-0 loss to Wigan in FA Cup last season. Going a goal down early may have been the saving grace for City, as it gave us 80 minutes to grab at least one against the Black Cats. If it had been scored later, our chances may have been few. Pellegrini made the right substitutions, and the boys were patient in their probing of Sunderland’s packed box.
As a captain should do, Vinnie, after making an uncharacteristic error on the Borini goal, didn’t let it hinder his play. He was immense post-goal. The greatest example of his mindset was when Borini broke behind the backline and looked to be going for a sure-thing goal. But, the hustle and “never say die” attitude from the captain blocked his effort at goal.
The first trophy is now ours, congratulations to the players and more importantly Pellegrini, who gets the first of hopefully many as City manager. Hopefully we can use this as a springboard to the final push of the season, and get back into the fight for the Premier League. And finally, can’t go without saying how spectacular both sets of fans were this afternoon, making the atmosphere jubilant the entire match.
Aguero (6) – Good first game back, nothing fancy but his set up of the Nasri goal was excellent. Can’t wait for him to get a full 90 in.
Dzeko (4) – Is he playing? Although he played the full 90, he was nowhere to be found, especially during the first half.
Silva (6) – Play making, and holding possession well in the Sunderland third. His control on the ball keeps the opposing team on their toes whenever he touches the ball.
Nasri (8) – Much was said before this game about his upset loss to Birmingham with Arsenal. He came to terms with his demons with that beautiful volleyed strike to give City the lead.
Fernandinho (6) – Good defending in the midfield and helping out when Sunderland got deep in the defensive third; getting some important interceptions and tackles late in the game.
Yaya (8 MotM) – Aggressive tackling from the Ivorian in the midfield, which he won in important part of the pitch. What an absolute wonder goal from him, Sunderland were allowing him a lot of space outside the box and he made them pay.
Zabaleta (7) – Great defending, not much of a factor in attack but his defensive work today was fantastic. Although he didn’t have his usual presence in attack, his pace down the right tired the back line of Sunderland.
Kompany (6) – Usually the most consistent player in our back line, but today he had a horrid start. After his opening struggles he made up for it as the consistent Vinnie was back. He made an important – maybe game-saving - tackle on Borini after he broke free.
Demichelis (6) – Although Vinnie will get the brunt of the blame for the goal, Demichelis looked out of position when the pass went up. Besides that he looked strong, reading the game exceptionally well.
Kolarov (7) – In the first half he did his best to get his crosses in, but none caused Sunderland stress. Beautiful cross from him to get Nasri his goal; his left foot is such a weapon. Great performance, defensively, against Johnson who can cause a lot of pressure for opposing sides.
Pantilimon (6) – The goal came from a very tough angle, can’t put much blame on him there. After that he did his job to keep Sunderland’s chances away from the goal, and take the safe route by punching it instead of catching.
Navas (6) – Good pace that punished the Sunderland defense after a beautiful counter by City.
Garcia (N/A) – Defensive change in the midfield, well timed subsitution as Sunderland attack looked menacing.
Negredo (N/A) – Hope he is back to 100% now, need him for this final matches this season.