PHIL BARDSLEY’S second goal in five days secured Sunderland’s fourth successive Stadium of Light victory over Manchester City today.
Bardsley, who netted in Wednesday’s Capital One Cup victory over Southampton, scored midway through the first half to make it three home wins on the spin for the Black Cats and hand a big boost to their survival prospects heading into the international break.
Sergio Aguero should have drawn City level before the break, but directed his header high and wide from four yards out.
But Sunderland defended heroically in the second half, with centre-halves Wes Brown and John O’Shea producing superb efforts to take Sunderland within three points of fourth bottom Fulham.
Gus Poyet made two changes from the side which progressed in the Capital One Cup against Southampton, with Seb Larsson and Steven Fletcher replacing Craig Gardner and Jozy Altidore, who were both included among the substitutes.
Ondrej Celustka and Emanuele Giaccherini, who both picked up knocks against the Saints, were passed fit, while Vito Mannone was preferred in goal to Keiren Westwood.
Manchester City boss Manuele Pellegrini made five changes from their midweek Champions League victory, with Micah Richards, Joleon Lescott, Aleksandar Kolarov, James Milner and Javi Garcia all included.
James Milner produced the first effort on target in the eighth minute when Ki Sung-Yeung lost possession to Alvaro Negredo and the Spaniard fed the England winger to the right of goal, 20 yards out.
Milner let fly on the angle, but his shot was straight at Vito Mannone who gathered at the second attempt.
Steven Fletcher had a half-chance in the 14th minute when Seb Larsson delivered a superb ball from the right which drifted over the head of Martin Demichelis.
Fletcher, loitering behind the centre-half, got his head to the ball, but his effort lacked power or direction and it drifted harmlessly wide.
Seb Larsson was fortunate not to earn at least a yellow card in the 19th minute for a studs-up challenge on Javier Garcia.
Two minutes later, Sunderland were ahead as Wes Brown lifted a ball down the left flank for the onrushing Phil Bardsley, who found himself in on goal after a slip by Milner.
Bardsley kept his cool with only Costel Pantilimon to beat and placed the ball with pin-point precision into the far corner.
Sergio Aguero spurned a golden opportunity to draw Man City level in the 33rd minute when he sent his far post header high and wide from four yards after Aleksandar Kolarov delivered a delicious cross from the left.
HALF-TIME Sunderland 1 Man City 0
City introduced Jesus Navas at half-time and he made an early impact by beating Adam Johnson down the right and crossing for Negredo who sent a looping header over the top.
Three minutes later, Sunderland had a huge escape when Aguero got the wrong side of John O’Shea down the left, raced to the by-line and then pulled it back for Navas who saw his first effort from six yards blocked by Bardsley, before Ki intercepted the rebound.
Ki almost netted a stunning second for Sunderland in the 58th minute when he collected possession 25 yards out, went past Yaya Toure with a drop of the shoulder and fired a right-footed shot just wide from the edge of the area.
Milner tried his luck from distance in the 62nd minute with a right-footed drive that deflected off Toure and dropped just wide of the post.
Mannone produced a smart stop in the 68th minute when Aguero span away on the left-hand side of the area and hit a low right-footed shot towards the far corner which the Sunderland keeper tipped around the post.
Three minutes later, substitute Edin Dzeko tested Mannone from distance, but the Italian managed to double parry it away before Aguero shanked the rebound well wide.
Dzeko then headed just wide from Milner’s left wing corner in the 80th minute.
Kolarov lashed a shot inches wide of the post in the 83rd minute from the edge of the area after Sunderland only half-cleared their lines.
FULL-TIME Sunderland 1 Manchester City 0
SUNDERLAND: Mannone, Celustka, Brown, O’Shea, Bardsley, Colback, Ki, Larsson, Johnson (Borini 87), Giaccherini (Gardner 72), Fletcher (Altidore 77). Subs not used: Westwood, Diakite, Cabral, Mavrias.
MANCHESTER CITY: Pantilimon, Richards (Zabaleta 71), Demichelis, Lescott, Kolarov, Milner, Toure, Garcia (Navas 46), Nasri, Aguero, Negredo (Dzeko 71). Subs not used: Hart, Rodwell, Clichy, Boyata. Booked: Garcia (26)