SAFC v Man City

Boxing Day delight

by Andrew Robson

Andrew Robson looks back on the win over Man City.

Having made it to the Stadium of Light for the first time since moving overseas, there is every temptation never to leave the UK again after Sunderland delivered the complete underdog performance to topple the champions on Boxing Day.

If last season’s heroics on New Year’s Day were a shade fortunate, this year’s victory had its roots in stern organisation and trademark counter-attacking football.

That said, City could have been out of sight inside the first twenty minutes. There is no doubting their quality and Sunderland were left chasing shadows as City, with Yaya Toure at the fulcrum, popped the ball around effortlessly and created hugely presentable chances for Kompany and Silva requiring the best of Simon Mignolet in the opening phase.

But for all City’s undoubted brilliance with the ball, I was astounded by their arrogance without it. Putting next to no pressure on the ball with Sunderland in possession, Mancini was effectively saying “I don’t think you’re good enough to break us down.” Thanks to perhaps Sessegnon’s finest outing in a red and white shirt, we were and we did. And over the 90 minutes we created the better goal scoring opportunities by some margin.

City may complain about Kevin Friend’s failure to spot Gardner’s foul on Zabaleta in the run up to Johnson’s surreal winner on 56 minutes – but surely can count themselves very lucky to not have played the last 25 minutes of the match with ten men after Kompany cynically blocked off McClean to halt one of half a dozen dangerous red and white counter attacks in the second half.

It was an imperious performance – Danny Rose was explosive, James McClean was everywhere and Jack Colback, in his David and Goliath battle with Yaya Toure, harried & hassled the African Player of the Year into abject frustration.

Three wins out of four in such a congested mid-table completely transforms the outlook for 2013. To climb above Newcastle and sit just 3 points from 9th place is the late Christmas present over 40,000 at the Stadium of Light were looking for on Boxing Day. And the lads truly delivered, with the performance of the season so far.

Keep the faith!

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