Sunderland suffered their first defeat in the Continental Tyres Cup when they lost out to Man City.
Goals by Niki Parris, Steph Houghton and Toni Duggan inflicted the Lady Black Cats first loss since April and their first in three of the cup’s group games.
Gemma Wilson pulled one back for Sunderland but despite their best efforts they missed out.
In-form City looked like running away with it when they went 2-0 up inside the first 15 minutes.
The away team, fielding a full array of England stars, were in front in 11 minutes and former star Houghton played her part.
Izzy Christiansen whipped in a corner which was cleared only as far as the England skipper.
Her half-volley was saved by Rachael Laws, making a welcome return to the Cats goal, but her parry fell to PARRIS who finished well from eight yards.
Sunderland tried to hit back through Steph Roche but her powerful left-foot shot from long-range cleared Karen Bardsley’s bar.
But the Lady Black Cats were 2-0 behind in the 15th minute and HOUGHTON this time found the net.
Christiansen was again involved putting in the cross which the South Hetton girl headed in from a central position.
However, Sunderland refused to lie down and pulled back a goal in the 23rd minute.
Greenwell sent over a perfectly-flighted corner which WILSON nodded into an empty net from inside the six-yard box.
Sunderland had a glorious chance at the end of the half when Sarah McFaddden sent Beth Mead clear but WSL1’s top scorer dragged her shot horribly wide of Bardsley’s right-hand post.
Man City 2
After the break, Man City wasted two opportunities to put game out of sight.
Parris was clean through on goal only for Laws to save superbly with her feet while Daphne Corboz missed the target completely when one-on-one with Laws.
Sunderland withdrew leading scorer Mead in the 62nd minute, bringing on Keira Ramshaw, before introducing Kelly McDougall seven minutes later for McFadden.
For all Sunderland’s spirit, they could not get a sniff at Bardsley’s goal while sub Krystal Johnson had another Man City opening only to fire wide.
In the opening seconds of injury time, World Cup star Jill Scott put Parris through but Laws pulled off an excellent save.
City frittered away another opportunity when Duggan hit the keeper’s right-hand post.
However, DUGGAN had the final say from the penalty spot.
Referee Billy Khatib awarded a spot-kick after adjudging Wilson had fouled Parris and Duggan put her dead ball high into the keeper’s top left corner.
MAN CITY 3
Sunderland: Laws, Holmes, Wilson, T Williams, Greenwell, Roche, McFadden (McDougall 69), Furness, Chaplen, Kelly, Mead (Ramshaw 62). Subs (not used): Olsen, Bannon, Joice
Man City: Bardsley, Bronze, Houughton, Radtke (Walsh 56), Stokes, Beattie, Scott, Christiansen, Corboz (Johnson 81), Duggan, Parris.
Subs (not used): Brooks, Brougham, Flint, Lipman, McManus
Referee: Billy Khatib