ADAM JOHNSON ensured lightning struck twice for Sunderland against his former club Manchester City.
Johnson’s second half strike was enough to beat the reigning Premier League champions as Sunderland registered a 1-0 win over City for the second successive year.
Sunderland were indebted to goalkeeper Simon Mignolet for a string of superb saves in the early stages as City piled on the pressure.
But Sunderland’s confidence gradually grew and after ending the first half strongly, Johnson broke the deadlock with an angled drive from 25 yards.
City pushed hard for a leveller, but it was Sunderland who actually had the better chances, with Stephane Sessegnon, Fraizer Campbell and James McClean all going close before the Black Cats held out to register back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
Injury doubts Adam Johnson and Seb Larsson were both passed fit for Sunderland, but there was no John O’Shea in the starting line-up.
Matt Kilgallon took O’Shea’s place alongside stand-in skipper Carlos Cuellar.
City made two changes with captain Vincent Kompany returning and James Milner replacing the injured Samir Nasri.
A stunning stop from Simon Mignolet prevented City breaking the deadlock in the eighth minute.
Kompany’s header from James Milner’s right wing corner looped onto the bar and after Sunderland failed to clear their lines, the ball bounced into the path of Yaya Toure on the far post.
Toure drilled a shot at goal, but Mignolet blocked with his outstretched right leg.
The Ivorian was thwarted by the Sunderland keeper again in the 13th minute when he attempted a curling right-footed shot towards the far corner from the edge of the area, which the Belgian managed to pluck out of the air.
Mignolet’s heroics continued in the 24th minute when City broke through Sergio Aguero down the left-hand channel.
Kilgallon tackled the Argentine on the left-hand by-line, but the ball squirmed into the path of David Silva, six yards out, only for Mignolet to block from point-blank range.
But Mignolet’s heroics were replicated by Joe Hart at the other end as the England stopper produced a marvellous save to deny Steven Fletcher.
The ball was knocked down by Sessegnon to Fletcher on the edge of the area and he unleashed a powerful low left-footed drive which Hart managed to tip around the post with a full-length save down to his right.
Sunderland had a half-chance four minutes before the interval when Johnson laid the ball back to Craig Gardner who whipped in a pacy low cross from the right.
Stephane Sessegnon found a yard of space at the near post, but couldn’t make a clean contact with his header, which looped wide.
HALF-TIME Sunderland 0 Man City 0
There was little reaction from City at the start of the second half and it was Sunderland who made the breakthrough in the 53rd minute, albeit in controversial circumstances.
Pablo Zabaleta looked to have been clearly fouled by Gardner midway inside the City half, but referee Kevin Friend waved play on.
The ball was played out to Johnson on the left-hand touchline, who surged inside on the diagonal and unleashed a rocket towards the near post which squirmed under Hart.
Sunderland could have doubled their advantage moments later when Sessegnon jinked inside and outside Kompany down the right-hand side of the area to make himself a yard, but then lashed a right-footed shot harmlessly beyond the far post.
The Benin international had another half-chance on the hour mark when James McClean picked him out with a left-wing cross, in space 12 yards out, only for the forward’s heavy first touch to run straight into the path of Hart.
Another superb save from Mignolet denied Aguero in the 70th minute when the City striker looked odds-on to level.
City had broken controversially when Kompany appeared to have handballed on the edge of the visitors’ box.
Silva threaded Aguero in behind the Sunderland back-line, but after beating the offside trap, he couldn’t beat Mignolet who made himself big and blocked low to his left.
Milner then curled a 25-yard right-footed free-kick a foot over the top with 15 minutes to go.
Sessegnon went desperately close to adding a second for Sunderland five minutes later after substitute Fraizer Campbell lifted the ball into a gaping chasm in the heart of City’s defence.
It left a foot race between Hart and Sessegnon, with the latter getting there first, just inside City’s area, but his effort was blocked well by the keeper.
The Black Cats had another opportunity in the 84th minute when Sessegnon pulled the ball back from the right-hand touchline and it deflected off Kompany into the path of Campbell, eight yards out.
Campbell hit a first-time, instinctive right-footed shot, but it was straight at Hart.
McCelan then spurned the opportunity for a second when he was set loose by Colback down the left and despite Campbell waiting in the middle, tried his luck himself with a left-footed shot that hit the side netting.
FULL-TIME Sunderland 1 Man City 0
SUNDERLAND: Mignolet, Gardner, Cuellar, Kilgallon, Rose (Bardsley 89), Johnson, Colback, Larsson (Campbell 79), McClean, Sessegnon, Fletcher. Subs not used: Westwood, Bardsley, Wickham, McFadden, Vaughan, Bramble. Booked: Colback (40) MAN CITY: Hart, K Toure (Barry 87), Kompany, Nastasic, Zabaleta, Milner, Y Toure, Garcia (Lescott 89), Silva, Aguero, Tevez (Dzeko 73). Subs not used: Pantilimon, Lescott, Rekik, Razak, Sinclair. Booked: Kompany (43), Y Toure (44), Nastasic (58)