Pep Guardiola's Manchester City debut was a very successful one, as the Citizens beat Sunderland in the Premier League opener with a dominant, yet narrow 2-1 victory, with goals from Sergio Agüero, Paddy McNair (OG) for City with Jermain Defoe scoring for Sunderland. The team didn't destroy Sunderland, but the performance was positive, attacking and encouraging. Good start to the Pep Era.
The first 45 minutes featured beautiful football from the Citizens, who featured some tactical changes that surprised those who are not used to seeing Guardiola's teams: full-backs Sagna and Clichy became midfielders, Fernandinho went to center-back and those three were tasked with keeping the ball and finding the more creative players on the team. David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne struggled a little, but the front three was intense, always moving and looking for a goal.
Sterling and Agüero were involved in the first goal, as the former won a penalty and the latter scored that penalty just four minutes into the match. Nolito appeared later as a real threat on the left side, attacking defenders one-on-one, cutting inside and taking some dangerous shots. A second goal wasn't scored, but chances were created through plenty of shots from outside the box.
City's domination continued for about 40 minutes, but the final few moments of the half featured a more attacking Sunderland, who nearly scored when Jermaine Defoe found the chest of Willy Caballero in the Black Cats' best chance.
At halftime, a dominant performance from City, that needed one or two more goals to secure an exciting victory.
The final period continued to display dominance in possession, but the team lacked intent and willingness to go forward and score. Agüero had a few half-chances, but the lack of goals was dangerous, and the Citizens paid for it. A beautifully worked play by Sunderland combined with terrible defending from City ended up with a goal for Black Cats top scorer, Jermain Defoe.
Pep Guardiola then sent everyone forward, and the pressure worked: after a calm buildup, Jesus Navas crossed into the box, the ball took a deflection and went in off a Sunderland defender's head.
In the end, a much narrow win than the score shows, but the performance could have been better. But for the first game of a completely new system and style, this is a positive game.
Man City: Caballero | Sagna, Stones, Kolarov, Clichy (Iheanacho) | Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Silva (Delph) | Sterling, Agüero, Nolito (Navas)
Goals: Agüero (4'), McNair (O.G. 87')
Sunderland: Manonne | Love, Kaboul, Kone, van Aanholt | O'Shea, Rodwell, Gooch (Januzaj) | Borini, Defoe (McNair), Watmore (Khazri)
Goal: Defoe (71')