Manchester City made no mistake in bouncing back from defeat at the weekend as they brushed aside fellow Premier League side Sunderland 4–1 in the Capital One cup third round. Many may have seen this as a potential banana skin for the richly assembled City squad in a repeat of the 2014 final, but any doubts were quashed within the first 10 minutes when City took the lead from the spot.
Sunderland gaffer Dick Advocaat, who previously stated he was looking for a good cup run to help instil some confidence into the club, had made several changes from the side that slipped to a 2-0 defeat against Bournemouth at the weekend, with former Blue’s Jack Rodwell and Adam Johnson both given a start, while former City keeper Costel Pantilimon dropped to the bench to be replaced by Vito Mannone.
His counterpart Manuel Pellegrini made just 3 changes from the side that began at the weekend in the Premier League, with Caballero, Demichelis and Fernando the only changes as he looked to guide his side back to winning ways on the back of two home defeats.
Sunderland started the stronger, enjoying a good spell of possession in the opening period, although there were warning signs at the other end when Agüero went close twice, first after being picked out by Jesús Navas before firing wide, and then after some sloppy play from the hosts at the back. However, when Van Aanholt was guilty of a poor tackle on Navas, the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, and Agüero, City’s top scorer last season, made no mistake this time as he punished the home side, sending Mannone the wrong way and continuing City’s impressive record of scoring on the road in this competition, which now stretches all the way back to 2003, and the last 17 on their travels.
Despite falling a goal behind, Sunderland refused to let their heads drop, and perhaps felt they should have been level after 15 minutes when Borini broke free from Otamendi and slipped the ball beyond the on-rushing Caballero, only to see his effort ruled out by the referee. In spite of the protests, he was adjudged to have been over-physical in dispossessing the Argentine defender in the build up, much to the disgust of the home fans.
Otamendi was then caught out again, as a poor pass across the area was chased down by Sunderland, but the former Valencia defender was able to recover and make the tackle before the Black Cats could punish his mistake. Sunderland skipper John O’Shea then failed to connect from a corner, as the home side once again undid the City defence in search of an equaliser, but were unable to capitalise on the chance.
Toivonen then forced a great save from Caballero as he connected with a free header inside the box after a fantastic cross from Yedlin, as Sunderland continued to pile on the pressure, only to see City go up the other end and extend their lead. New arrival Kevin De Bruyne broke, and a neat one-two between him and Sterling sent the former Wolfsburg player free to slot home beyond Mannone, although the former Arsenal keeper will be more than a little annoyed to have been beaten so easily at his near post.
It proved to be a killer blow for the home side, who began to look dejected, and it was no surprise when they fell further behind just after the half-hour mark, Raheem Sterling seeing his initial effort come back off the post before striking Italian keeper Mannone on the back and ending up in the net. And while it will be quite rightly given as an own goal, there was no doubting who scored the 4th, when De Bruyne slipped Sterling through, and the 20 year old England winger finished with aplomb into the far corner.
It could have been even worse for Sunderland, and should have been 5 before the break when Agüero found himself free to round Mannone, but inexplicably the Argentine striker failed to slot home, taking a touch too many and allowing the Sunderland defence to get back and somehow clear the danger.
Sunderland threw on Lee Cattermole at the break, as much in an attempt to limit the damage as wrestle back any control of the game. However, with City 4-0 in front they were unsurprisingly unwilling to up the tempo, instead happy to stroke the ball around and pick out a key pass where necessary. With the result looking all but safe, City handed a debut to Patrick Roberts, the £2 million capture from Fulham, who came on to replace Navas, whose performance will hopefully have gone some way to restoring his confidence after the weekend.
City continued to create, Touré forcing a save from Mannone, while at the other end Sunderland struggled to test Caballero. The crowd were livened up somewhat by the arrival of a pitch invader, but the excitement proved short lived for the home crowd, as the visitors continued to dominate play. Jeremain Lens did at least force a save from the City stopper just after the hour mark, but the shot proved easy for the former Málaga keeper despite some good initial skill from the Sunderland striker in creating the opportunity.
City almost gifted Sunderland the chance of a consolation goal when another poor Otamendi pass back was almost punished, but the largely pedestrian Caballero was able to rush out and intercept. The City keeper was then called into action again to deny Borini, as the former Liverpool striker remained onside on this occasion but was unable to find the finish.
Next to leave the action was Agüero, who despite the penalty will still be ruing that first half miss, to be replaced by another of the promising City youngsters, Manu Garcia, as City looked to rest their star striker with the game largely won. Credit to Sunderland as they continued to press to at least get on the score-sheet, Borini continuing to work tirelessly in an attempt to make himself available, and it was no surprise when they did grab one back near the end, Yedlin again the provider with another fantastic cross, and Toivonen this time reacting quicker than Caballero to direct the ball home with his head.
There was still time for City to hand another debut, this time to midfielder George Evans, who came on in place of Ivorian midfielder Yaya Touré. In coming into the action, the 20 year old midfielder became the first Manchester City player to represent the club at every level, quite an achievement given the wealth of talent at the club he has been at since a child. There was to be no more action of note as City saw out the victory and see themselves comfortably into the 4th round. More importantly for Pellegrini, his City side didn’t pick up any further knocks, as they look to take this form back into the league at the weekend against Spurs. Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat, however, will once again be left frustrated at his side’s inability to defend with any real conviction. The North East side are rooted to the foot of the table, alongside neighbours Newcastle, and now face the massively daunting trip to Old Trafford to take on 2nd place Manchester United at the weekend.
Sunderland: Toivonen 93
Manchester City: Agüero 9 (pen), De Bruyne 25, Mannone 33 (og), Sterling 36
MOTM: Kevin De Bruyne – many quaffed at his price tag when the Belgian international arrived from the Bundesliga, but in just a few short appearances he has already shown his class. Comfortable with both feet, the 24 year old is more than capable of pulling the strings in the middle in the absence of David Silva. As he re-adapts to the Premier League and his new club, I only see him getting better still.Share this: