Bardsley nets winner to down City.
Sunderland chalked up a third straight home win as Phil Bardsley’s goal, allied to a superb defensive display, secured victory over Manchester City.
Bardsley fired home what proved to be the winner 21 minutes in, supplying his second strike in as many games.
The hosts took their chance when it came along and thwarted City’s stars when they launched a concerted comeback attempt in the second half.
But this win wasn’t just about grit - Poyet’s passing game was in evidence to great effect against a City side who found frustration at every turn.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men had banged in 12 goals in their previous two games but drew a blank against a Sunderland side who showed their defensive mettle on countless occasions.
Wes Brown – returning to league action – was in imperious form, particularly when Sunderland were hemmed inside their defensive third in the final stages.
Sunderland have now chalked up four consecutive 1-0 victories in home clashes with City, who arrived on Wearside having scored more goals than any other side in the league.
Poyet, made two changes to the team which beat Southampton in the Capital One Cup, with the hard-working Seb Larsson and Steven Fletcher returning in place of Craig Gardner and Jozy Altidore.
Fans and players from both sides participated in an immaculately observed period of silence prior to kick-off on Remembrance Sunday.
A quiet start produced only flashes of action, with Bardsley alert to clear an Aleksandar Kolarov cross ahead of Alvaro Negredo, while James Milner tested Vito Mannone – who retained his place in goal - with a rising left-footed drive which was easily fielded by the Sunderland goalkeeper.
The hosts were happy to play a patient passing game, and some neat play engineered a 14th-minute opening when Larsson’s pinpoint cross was nodded wide by a stretching Fletcher from 12 yards.
Poyet’s side established an advantage they would never relinquish seven minutes later thanks to a striker’s finish from Bardsley – also a scorer against Southampton in midweek.
Brown played a searching ball down the left, Bardsley bulled his way past Milner and the defender buried a delightful shot into the far corner beyond Costel Pantilimon from a tight angle.
Stung, City responded with a spell of possession and came close just after the half-hour when the overlapping Kolarov’s cross found Aguero at the back post - but the striker headed wide.
Then Aguero’s strike partner, Negredo, produced a lovely piece of control to take possession on the edge of the box but swiped at his shot, which fizzed well beyond the far post.
At the other end Fletcher sniffed a half-chance when Emanuele Giaccherini swung in a cross from the right, but the striker couldn’t get a clean connection under pressure from the attending Micah Richards.
Roared off at the break by the home crowd, Sunderland had some defending to do in the second period with City introducing Jesus Navas in place of Javier Garcia for extra width.
The Spaniard provided an early cross which Aguero headed wide before the pair combined in reverse order to fashion an excellent opening five minutes after the restart.
Aguero broke down the left and steered the ball back for Navas to fire goalwards from 10 yards, but the effort was brilliantly blocked by Bardsley inside his own six-yard box with the home defence scrambling to clear.
Navas was proving dangerous as he scampered down the right on the counter-attack and flashed a cross-shot just wide of the far post with no-one able to connect.
However, Sunderland always looked promising when they managed to break forward, with Ki Sung-Yueng firing just off-target after meeting a half-cleared Bardsley cross and powering beyond the covering Yaya Toure.
But still City kept advancing, with Milner blazing over before Richards saw a low shot from the edge of the box well saved by Mannone.
The Italian keeper then did well to field a quicksilver turn and shot by Aguero, with the ball bouncing awkwardly in front of the stopper before he turned the effort around the post.
Edin Dzeko, on as a 72nd-minute substitute, was denied by Mannone just moments after coming on, seeing a 20-yard drive palmed away. The rebound ran into the path of Aguero as the Stadium of Light held its collective breath, but the frontman couldn’t get a clean strike on the bouncing ball and the shot sailed wide.
Poyet introduced Gardner and then Altidore off the bench with City throwing men forward in search of an equaliser.
But the home defence was not for breaking, with every ball into the box returned with interest.
There were nervous moments as Dzeko headed off-target 10 minutes from time, while Kolarov brushed the side-netting with a vicious rising drive.
Adam Johnson earned his side a moment of respite when he tested Pantilimon from distance at the other end, but City continued to press only to find the doggedly determined hosts in unforgiving mood.
Deliveries into the penalty area met a red and white wall as the hosts continually cleared their lines, roared on by a crowd who could sense victory was close at hand.
A last-gasp corner nodded wide was the signal for the celebrations to begin as Poyet and his men secured three priceless points.
- Johnson (Borini)
- Giaccherini (Gardner)
- Fletcher (Altidore)
- Richards (Zabaleta)
- García Fernández (Navas) Yellow
- Negredo (Dzeko)
- Adilson Cabral