Premier League – Sunderland shock City
After a largely lukewarm encounter in the North East, the Black Cats grabbed a deserved winner when Bent was hauled down by Micah Richards after a cross from Ahmed El-Mohamady (pictured to the left of Bent) caught the visiting defence flat-footed.
City lacked the spark they showed in the 3-0 defeat of Liverpool last Monday, and while they were the better side in the first half, the hosts improved dramatically after the break as City’s megabucks attacking threat vanished in the Bank Holiday sun.
An uneventful first half was marked by a dreadful miss by Tevez.
The Argentina striker, who scored 23 Premier League goals last season and got two in the win over Liverpool, put over from six yards with an open net gaping after Yaya Toure broke clear and slid the ball beyond the excellent Simon Mignolet in the Sunderland goal.
It was a shocker and, along with Antolin Alcaraz’s howler for Wigan against Spurs, meant the weekend doubled the number of horror-misses one usually waits several seasons to see.
Otherwise, both sides were cagey and negative, with Tevez actually fairly bright for City as he combined well with Yaya Toure, playing as the most advanced of the visitors’ midfield trio.
Indeed, the former Barcelona midfielder was twice denied by excellent saves from Mignolet, the first diving in at his feet after a neat exchange of passes with Tevez, and the second in first-half stoppage time after Anton Ferdinand’s wayward defensive header landed nicely for the Ivorian.
Sunderland, for their part, enjoyed a decent amount of possession but had nothing approaching a final ball, with Hart largely idle in the opening 45 minutes.
The second half was little better, the first 10 minutes as tepid as anything in the first 45 and notable only for a flying parry from Hart after Vincent Kompany hesitated with Bent lurking.
El-Mohamady was energetic enough though, the Egyptian testing Hart with a swerving cross-shot after one of his runs down the right wing, while Hart again had to problem-solve when a missed clearance by Kompany almost let Bent in.
They got closer when a superb cross from El-Mohamady was nodded away at the last by Kolo Toure, while had Steed Malbranque been a touch taller he could have diverted Kieran Richardson’s cross downwards and not over the bar.
The best change of the half fell to City though, with Mignolet pulling off a remarkable save from nearly point-blank range after an equally spectacular backheeled volley from substitute Emmanuel Adebayor seemed destined for the top corner.
That was with 12 minutes remaining and little happened of note afterwards, until the grandstand finish.
David Silva made a Premier League debut from the bench, on for the quiet Adam Johnson, but he was unable to get a feel for the game, while Tevez was absent without leave until he was substituted on 90 minutes.
Sunderland kept plugging away, peppering City’s box with high and low balls as they sensed an upset.
It came at the death when – having taken Joleon Lescott off and shunted Barry to left-back to bring in a second striker – City were left exposed on Sunderland’s right, El-Mohamady whipped in a swerving ball that was deflected off Kolo Toure and forced Richards to pull Bent to the ground.
Bent stood up and, despite the efforts of Hart to put him off, drilled his finish into the bottom right to complete what now counts as a big upset.
Reda Maher / Eurosport