A goal from substitute Sergio Agüero came in between two thumping free kicks as Manchester City recorded their first clean sheet of the season in a comfortable 3-0 win over Sunderland.
Kolarov Goal (1-0)
After 5 minutes Manchester City took the lead thanks to a brilliant Kolarov free kick. The free kick came from a crude challenge from Cuellar on Carlos Tevez after Manchester City had counter attacked with unstoppable pace.
Adam Johnson had isolated Aleksandar Kolarov and tried to cut inside onto his favoured left foot, however as Gareth Barry came across as cover, Johnson’s poor touch fell to James Milner on the edge of the box. From here it was evident that Sunderland had committed too many players forward, meaning that when Milner played a pass to Balotelli, he had effectively taken out seven Sunderland players.
As John O’Shea stepped off to wait for support, Mario Balotelli was then able to play an intelligent pass into the path of Tevez, who was now in a foot race with Cuellar. As Sunderland players tracked back, Cuellar then committed a bad foul, and Kolarov scored from the free kick.
Agüero Goal (2-0)
The second goal for Manchester City came in the 60th minute from the substitute Sergio Agüero. For this goal, City was able to open up space in between the lines of Sunderland’s defence and midfield.
As Kolarov was closed by McLean, he played a pass inside to Barry, who when pressured by Larsson was able to bisect the two and pass to Silva. This meant Silva had received the ball in a huge amount of space in between the lines and was able to run inside at Gardner.
Kolarov then overlapped on the outside of Silva and, as McLean failed to track back, City had a 2v1 against Gardner. It should also be noted that in this situation a holding midfielder could have prevented the goal by moving across into the circled zone which would have allowed Gardner to pass on the defending of Silva and watched the run of Kolarov. Unfortunately, due to the system (4-4-1-1) and selection (duo of Colback and Larsson in the middle) of Sunderland, they had no natural holding midfielder to cover; perhaps if Lee Cattermole wasn’t suspended he would have more naturally sniffed out the danger and moved across into the danger zone.
What should also be noted is the run of Agüero. After coming back from an offside position he was able to commit John O’Shea to moving inside (who also inexcusably turned the wrong way to watch the run) only to dart back towards the front post to slot home the cross.
Milner Goal (3-0)
The third goal from City came late in the game and was again from a free-kick, this time James Milner. This goal was nice and simple in its structure. Agüero brilliantly held the ball up and turned, which eliminated two Sunderland players, leaving Aleksandar Kolarov 1v1 in behind the defence.
Kolarov was too fast for Gardner, who committed the foul as Kolarov cut the ball back onto his right foot. Milner, via a slight deflection, then scored from the edge of the box.