Ha'way Back When: Bardsley goal gives Sunderland big win against Man City
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet was on a high after seeing his side win back-to-back home games at the Stadium of Light.
The Black Cats had made a poor start to the campaign with seven defeats and a lone draw leaving them in dire straits.
But then Sunderland beat Alan Pardew’s Newcastle United 2-1 thanks to goals from Steven Fletcher and Fabio Borini.
And they followed that up with another home win by seeing off Manchester City - who would go on to the win the Premier League title - on Wearside.
It was Sunderland’s fourth successive 1-0 home win against City!
The win moved Sunderland onto seven points, second bottom above Crystal Palace.
The Black Cats finished the seaosn in 14th place with 38 points.
Poyet said: “I’m very proud, and very tired, like I played the game.
“Everybody on the bench was playing the game right to the end, heading balls away! That;s what it meant to us.
“The prodest moment is when you are able to keep a clean sheet.
“We haven’t kept a clean sheet in the league so far - it’s perfection!”
Phil Bardsley scored the only goal in the first half when he shrugged off James Milner and curled in a low shot.
City dominated thereafter but were thwarted by a well-organised Sunderland defence and goalkeeper Vito Mannone.
Sergio Aguero headed wide from close range and had a shot palmed away by Mannone as the Black Cats held on.
City had suffered 1-0 defeats on each of their last four trips to the Stadium of Light.
By the end of the match, as the hosts soaked up incessant City pressure, every Sunderland touch was greeted with a roar by the home fans.
It was the Black Cats’ third win in four games in all competitions and Poyet’s third in as many home games since he succeeded Paolo Di Canio as manager.
In just over a month at the helm, the Uruguayan appeared to have instilled a confidence and composure in his team.
With Wes Brown making his first Premier League start in 22 months, the defence carried a steeliness that had been missing for most of a miserable start to the season as they registered their first clean sheet of the campaign.
Brown, and his former Manchester United team-mate John O’Shea, were outstanding as they tamed City’s prolific strikers Aguero and Alvaro Negredo, and largely restricted their visitors to speculative shots from distance.
City were punished for a slow start as the home side seized the early initiative.
They created the first opening when Sebastian Larsson’s cross from the right picked out Steven Fletcher, whose header from the penalty spot lacked power and drifted wide.
Soon afterwards, Larsson was extremely fortunate to escape punishment when his studs connected with Javi Garcia’s ankle in midfield.
Referee Mike Dean’s leniency was on display once again in the build-up to the opening goal.
The official opted not to penalise Bardsley when he appeared to bundle over Milner, allowing the full-back to race on to Brown’s long pass and curl a precise finish past Costel Pantilimon.
The ball barely left the Sunderland half in a frantic last 10 minutes, but when the final whistle sounded, Poyet and his team at last celebrated a hard-earned victory.
Sunderland: Vito Mannone; Phil Bardsley, John O’Shea, Wes Brown, Ondrej Celustka; Ki Sung-Yueng; Emanuele Giaccherini (Craig Gardner 72’), Jack Colback, Sebastian Larsson, Adam Johnson (Fabio Borini 87’); Steven Fletcher (Jozy Altidore 77’).
Manchester City: Costel Pantilimon; Aleksandar Kolarov, Joleon Lescott, Martin Demichelis, Micah Richards (Pablo Zabaleta 70’); Samir Nasri, Yaya Toure, Javi Garcia (Jesus Navas 45’), James Milner; Sergio Aguero; Alvaro Negredo (Edin Dzeko 70’).