SUNDERLAND’S run of four successive Stadium of Light wins over Manchester City came to an abrupt end after a classy comeback from the Premier League champions.
A brace from the superb Sergio Aguero brought Sunderland’s four-game unbeaten run to a halt after Gus Poyet’s side suffered their second-heaviest defeat of the campaign.
Connor Wickham’s second top flight goal of the season put Sunderland on course to create another Wearside upset against City.
But after Aguero equalised within two minutes for the visitors, the after-effects of Saturday’s 0-0 draw against league leaders Chelsea took their toll on the Black Cats.
Stevan Jovetic’s strike - after a brilliant touch from Aguero - gave City the lead before second half goals from Pablo Zabaleta, and another from Aguero, wrapped up a comfortable win for Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
Gus Poyet made two changes to his starting XI, with on-loan Liverpool centre-half Sebastian Coates - ineligible to face his parent club on Saturday - handed his Premier League debut for Sunderland.
Coates replaced the rested Wes Brown alongside John O’Shea, while Will Buckley was introduced for Adam Johnson, who suffered a knock in the weekend’s draw against Chelsea which had kept him out of training.
City also made two changes - both of which were enforced in central defence - with Dedryck Boyata and Martin Demichelis coming in for the injured Vincent Kompany and the suspended Eliaquim Mangala.
Jack Rodwell had a golden chance to break the deadlock against his former club in the fifth minute after Seb Larsson’s ball sent Will Buckley in behind the City defence.
Buckley pulled the ball back from the right to Rodwell, in space 15 yards out, but he didn’t connect firmly with his right-footed shot and it was blocked inside the six-yard box by Pablo Zabaleta.
Sunderland did go ahead in the 19th minute though after benefiting from a splash of fortune.
Wickham laid the ball off to Larsson midway inside the City half before the Swede played an inch-perfect return pass for the striker in behind the opposition defence.
Pablo Zabaleta slid in to try to take the ball away from Wickham, but his challenge deflected off the striker and into the net.
However, Sunderland’s advantage lasted just two minutes.
Aguero collected a square-pass on the edge of the Sunderland area and dinked the ball beyond Coates, surging past the Uruguayan too easily before thrashing an unstoppable shot past Costel Pantilimon at his near post.
Moments later, Jesus Navas thrashed an angled right-footed shot a couple of yards wide of the far post from just inside the area.
City went ahead six minutes before the interval, with Aguero again proving to be pivotal.
Yaya Toure fizzed a ball into the path of the Argentine international, who flicked it brilliantly first-time towards Jovetic.
Jovetic left the ball bounce before smashing a half-volley through the legs of Pantilimon.
HALF-TIME Sunderland 1 Man City 2
Zabaleta made amends for his inadverted contribution to Sunderland’s opening goal when he doubled City’s advantage 10 minutes into the second half.
The right-back played a one-two with Samir Nasri before receiving a clever through-ball in behind the Sunderland defence.
With Pantilimon advancing out of his goal, Zabaleta lifted the ball over the keeper with ice-cool precision.
Moments later, Steven Fletcher was forced off with a back problem after failing to recover from a rugged tackle from behind by Boyata.
City extended their advantage to 4-1 in the 72nd minute when substitute James Milner sent a low ball into the area and Aguero helped it on to beat Pantilimon at the near post.
FULL-TIME Sunderland 1 Man City 4
SUNDERLAND: Pantilimon, Vergini, O’Shea, Coates, Reveillere, Cattermole, Rodwell, Larsson, Buckley, Wickham (Alvarez 66), Fletcher (Altidore 55). Subs not used: Bridcutt, Brown, Cabral, Gomez, Mannone. Booked: Cattermole (71)
MANCHESTER CITY: Hart, Zabaleta, Boyata, Demichelis, Clichy, Fernandinho, Toure, Nasri, Navas (Pozo 83), Jovetic (Milner 56), Aguero (Lampard 74). Subs not used: Caballero, Sagna, Angel Tasende, Fernando. Booked: Boyata (65)