Aleksandar Kolarov inspires Manchester City to a 3-0 win over Sunderland
Last Updated: 07/10/12 6:24am
Aleksandar Kolarov celebrates his free-kick opener for Man City
Manchester City climbed to second in the Premier League and ended Sunderland's unbeaten start to the season with a 3-0 romp at the Etihad Stadium.
Aleksandar Kolarov's 5th-minute free-kick set City on their way but a string of chances came and went before substitute Sergio Aguero (60) sealed only a second victory in seven, James Milner adding late gloss to an ultimately commanding display (89).
Roberto Mancini bemoaned the quick turnaround following Wednesday's draw with Dortmund but soon had cause to celebrate, Carlos Cuellar's lunge on Carlos Tevez on the edge of the area costing more than just a yellow card.
- Man of the match: Kolarov. With his exceptional free-kick, an assist, and a ninety minutes that left Gardner completely flummoxed, it was one of his best performances in a Manchester City shirt to date.
- Goal of the match: Kolarovu2019s powerful free-kick had Mignolet shambling around trying to reach it but such was the precision and pace of the ball that the Sunderland keeper simply stood no chance.
- Attempt of the match: Richardsu2019 second half overhead kick was completely outrageous but not too far off marking what would have been the goal of the season to date.
- Moment of the match: Aguerou2019s arrival for Balotelli turned the game on its head and put City in such a position of control that Sunderland never got a sniff of a goal afterwards.
- Talking point: City showed the swagger of champions and record their first clean sheet of the season. It was their best performance of the season by some way and their title rivals will no doubt feel much warier of Roberto Manciniu2019s side than before the game started.
Pablo Zabaleta soon bustled into the box, only to be thwarted by Simon Mignolet's well-spread frame, and Tevez dragged a shot across goal as City's generous share of possession failed to yield a second.
Martin O'Neill surely urged more ambition from his side and they briefly responded after the break, Steven Fletcher unlucky on the volley and City old boy Adam Johnson denied by a last-ditch challenge.
But the game would have been up had Yaya Toure and Micah Richards taken the chances that came their way inside a minute at the other end, Sunderland now spent.
Aguero - on for an irked Mario Balotelli - met a Kolarov cross to finally double the lead and after David Silva clipped the goalframe, Milner curled in for a scoreline more befitting his side's dominance.
Richards had made a surprise return from an ankle injury for injured captain Vincent Kompany, while Joleon Lescott was also restored to the defence.
Toure took over as skipper, playing alongside Gareth Barry in midfield, while Tevez and Balotelli started up front.
Sunderland had former City winger Johnson in their side hoping to make a point, but the England international was unable to make an impression.
City took the lead after Tevez was crudely brought down by Cuellar on their first attack. The Argentinian had broken clear but was felled by a late tackle on the edge of the box and referee Lee Probert brandished the yellow card.
The City supporters felt it should have been red but they did not complain for long as Kolarov stepped up to curl a superb free-kick past Mignolet at the near post.
City went close to a second as a Tevez shot was deflected into Zabaleta's path but Mignolet - making amends for any fault on his part for Kolarov's goal - saved at point-blank range.
Balotelli then did win a free-kick on the edge of the box after being caught in the face by Craig Gardner's boot.
Kolarov took aim once again but his effort was deflected behind for a corner, perhaps with a suspicion of handball, by Sebastian Larsson.
Balotelli curled an effort wide and felt he should have had another free-kick after clashing with John O'Shea.
Barry drove wide as City continued to push and Sunderland's best efforts amounted to ineffective shots from James McClean and Fletcher.
City started the second half well with Toure cutting inside and forcing Mignolet to palm over.
A chance fell to Richards from the resulting corner and his shot at the second attempt was cleared off the line by Rose.
Sunderland finally began to apply some pressure but a powerful header by Fletcher, which brought a fine save from Joe Hart, was ruled offside.
Kolarov produced a fine tackle to deny Johnson a clear run on goal and that served to shake City back into life, a sliding Balotelli inches away from diverting a Kolarov cross towards goal.
Richards then brought a good diving save out of Mignolet with a powerful header from a Milner cross.
The second goal finally came as Aguero raced to the near post to turn in a vicious Kolarov ball from six yards.
That effectively signalled the end for Sunderland but City wanted more for their dominance.
Silva played in Tevez, who drove narrowly wide, and then roles were reversed as the Argentinian rounded Mignolet to set up the Spaniard, whose sublime chip hit the bar.
Barry tried his luck but Gardner headed away before Richards again saw a chance blocked on the line in a crowded penalty area.
Richards was wild with an attempted overhead kick moments later and Toure was narrowly off-target with a long-range effort.
City threatened again after another slick move involving Richards, Aguero and Tevez but O'Shea managed to foil them.
Yet they would not settle for two and Milner whipped in a free-kick from the left of the box which took a slight deflection off the head of Gardner to evade Mignolet's grasp.
|Manchester City||Team Statistics||Sunderland|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|9||Shots on Target||4|
|12||Shots off Target||2|
|56.7||1st Half Poss.||43.3|
|65||2nd Half Poss.||35|
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|17||West Bromwich Albion||28||25|