Barclay’s Premier League
Sunday 3 April 2011, 16.00 KO
City: Hart, Boyata (McGivern 70), Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov, de Jong, Y Touré, Silva (Wright-Phillips 79), Balotelli, A Johnson (Vieira 67), Tevez (c)
Unused: Taylor, Barry, Milner, Dzeko
Goals: A Johnson (9), Tevez (pen 15), Silva (63), Vieira (67), Y Touré (73)
Booked: Kolarov, Vieira
Referee: Howard Webb
Man of the Match: Vincent Kompany
Having seen results go their way the day before, City knew that the game against Sunderland was an ideal opportunity to regain their form. And, having won all of their previous encounters at home in the Premier League, City got off to a fantastic start, hardly letting the visitors get a touch of the ball.
Balotelli had the opening shot of the game, but his furious drive was charged down, as the hosts looked for the early goal. And, a minute later, that goal came courtesy of Adam Johnson. He received a return ball from the right from Yaya Touré and smashed it into the net from just inside the box.
And just when Sunderland needed to keep it tight, City hit them with a quick counter attack. Tevez was played in with a neat ball over the top and all Phil Bardsley could do was bring him down in the box. The skipper, though, dusted himself down and slid the penalty into the corner of the net to double City’s lead.
Despite City’s dominance, though, they couldn’t really find a good shooting opportunity – Silva and Kolarov combined neatly down the left, but the pull back to the edge of the box couldn’t pick out a blue shirt and a series of Johnson corners were just about cleared with some last gasp defending from the visitors.
Sunderland began to work up some possession, but were nothing more than toothless in attack: Joe Hart covering his post for a long range volley the closest the City keeper came to seeing any of the action. At the other end, Kolarov drove a shot right at Mignolet and a Tevez near touch and shot was deflected wide. City were cruising at the break.
The first action of the second half saw Roberto Mancini prove that he’s not lost it, as he expertly controlled a high ball, after Vincent Kompany had cleared the early danger towards the dugout. Johnson could have put City three goals in front after some fantastic interplay between Silva and Tevez, but he was just offside, before Sunderland added Zenden to try and get back into the game.
It didn’t work, though, as City pulled themselves further in front. Tevez broke quickly down the right flank and played an early, low ball in for Balotelli. The Italian’s shot was blocked, but David Silva popped up on the edge of the six yard box to slot the ball into the net and seal game with just over an hour played.
Adam Johnson was then replaced to a standing ovation by Patrick Vieira and it was good to have him back on the pitch; proving he can provide that spark that City had been lacking in recent weeks. And it turned out to be an inspired substitution, as Vieira’s first touch of the ball – from a left wing corner – saw him knock it over the line, despite Mignolet’s best efforts to keep it out.
With just under 20 minutes to play, City did their goal difference even more good, as Yaya Touré got his name on the scoresheet. Cattermole got himself in trouble on the right wing and tried to look for his goalkeeper with a chipped pass. Some smart centre-forward play by Tevez though, made sure that Touré could nip in and chip the ball over the on-rushing Mignolet to complete City’s best league haul of the season so far.
The game petered to a close, with Joe Hart still untroubled by the Sunderland attack, collected some simple knock downs and a long range shot from Zenden with consummate ease. Balotelli almost added a sixth goal for the blues in stoppage time, but Mignolet pulled a save right from the top drawer to deny him.