Sunderland 1 Manchester City 0: Old boy Johnson comes back to haunt Mancini as Black Cats take all three points
18:13 GMT, 26 December 2012
Adam Johnson came back to haunt Manchester City as the champions slipped to a third successive Barclays Premier League defeat at Sunderland.
The England winger, who was considered surplus to requirements at the Etihad Stadium during the summer and was allowed to join the Black Cats in a 10million move, embarrassed former team-mate Joe Hart with a dipping 53rd-minute strike which beat him at the near post and clinched three precious points for his new employers.
However, the winner was not without controversy with the visitors adamant they should have been awarded a free-kick for a foul on Pablo Zabaleta during the build-up.
Making the difference: Adam Johnson celebrates scoring against City
Sunderland: Mignolet, Larsson (Campbell 78), Cuellar, Kilgallon, Rose (Bardsley 88), Gardner, McClean, Colback, Johnson, Sessegnon, Fletcher.
Subs not used: Westwood, Wickham, McFadden, Vaughan, Bramble.
Goals: Johnson 53.
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Toure (Barry 86), Nastasic, Milner, Javi Garcia (Lescott 89), Toure , Silva,Aguero, Tevez (Dzeko 72).
Subs not used: Pantilimon, Sinclair, Rekik, Razak.
Booked: Kompany, Toure, Nastasic.
Referee: Kevin Friend
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Sunderland turned in one of their best displays of the season on a day when City played only fitfully, and Hart had to turn away Steven Fletcher's skidding effort and keep out Stephane Sessegnon 10 minutes from time.
However, if Johnson was the hero in front of a delighted Boxing Day crowd of 42,190, keeper Simon Mignolet deserved equal praise.
The Belgian denied Yaya Toure and David Silva before the break and Sergio Aguero after it to claim a precious clean sheet and make a huge contribution towards the win.
City arrived determined not to complete an unwanted hat-trick of 1-0 league defeats on Wearside and, after a lacklustre start, eased themselves into the game.
They might have been ahead with just eight minutes gone, but Vincent Kompany's header came back off the crossbar and Yaya Toure's goalbound follow-up was hacked away by Mignolet, who reacted instantly to deny the visitors an early lead.
Silva curled a 10th-minute free-kick
wastefully over the bat and Toure saw a curling effort plucked from
underneath the crossbar by Mignolet three minutes later.
Christmas cheer: Craig Gardner (centre) celebrates with team mates following his sides win over City
Dejected: Carlos Tevez looks frustrated as City could not find a goal
City were pinning Sunderland deep inside their own half and it seemed only a matter of time before they made the pressure tell.
Mignolet had to be at his best once
again with 24 minutes gone after Carlos Tevez and Aguero combined to put
Silva in on goal, only for Mignolet to block his effort at close range.
seconds later Hart had to dive to his right to turn away Fletcher's
rasping left-foot drive and the Black Cats, buoyed after weathering the
early storm, started to force their way into the game.
Beaten man: Adam Johnson (not pictured) gets the ball past Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart
Mixed emotions: The Sunderland players and fans celebrate as Hart and Kompany look on
Johnson was enjoying the better of his individual battle with Zabaleta, who played much of the half with a heavily bandaged head after suffering a cut, and as James McClean took up the theme, Martin O'Neill's men upped their tempo.
Kompany and Matija Nastasic had to repel dangerous crosses from Sebastian Larsson and McClean respectively, and Sessegnon flashed a header well wide from Craig Gardner's driven 42nd-minute cross.
In the wars: Pablo Zabaleta gets a cut after Steven Fletcher catches him with his boot
Body on the line: Zabaleta has blood pouring from his head after the incident
Back in business: Zabaleta returns with his head bandaged
Larsson drilled a late free-kick straight into the defensive wall, but he and his team-mates left the pitch at the break with their clean sheet intact and everything still to play for.
Sunderland picked up where they had left off after the restart as McClean and Johnson, with the help of Sessegnon and Fletcher, stretched City uncomfortably at times. It was they who took the lead with eight minutes of the half played.
City boss Roberto Mancini and Zabaleta were left appealing in vain for a free-kick for Gardner's challenge on the full-back, but Johnson picked up possession and cut inside before blasting in a dipping shot which caught Hart flat-footed at his near post and squirmed into the bottom corner.
Sessegnon might have doubled his side's advantage within two minutes, but pulled his effort across the face of goal with City in disarray.
Old boy: Former City winger Adam Johnson scored against his former side
Getting stuck in: Jack Colback and Matt Kilgallon challenge Manchester City's Carlos Tevez
Stopped in his tracks: Sergio Aguero is halted by Colback
The visitors were almost breached once again on the hour when McClean picked out Sessegnon in front of goal, but the Benin international could not take the ball in his stride.
Kompany, who had already been booked, was fortunate to escape a second yellow card for a block on McClean as City struggled to contain a Black Cats side growing in confidence by the minute.
But the visitors gradually regained their composure and started to move the ball confidently once again and Mignolet had to claim a 68th-minute Zabaleta cross at his near post after being played in by James Milner.
Eyes on the ball: Steven Fletcher and Vincent Kompany fight for the ball
The Belgium international excelled himself once again two minutes later to deny Aguero one on one, but it was Hart in the firing line with 10 minutes remaining when Sessegnon was played in by substitute Fraizer Campbell with the keeper coming out on top.
City battered away at their hosts as time ran down, but with Sunderland defending deep and with tenacity, they simply could not find a way through and McClean almost served up the perfect finish with an 88th-minute shot which flew just wide.
Bad day: Roberto Mancini saw his side lose ground on Manchester United as they failed to win