A spirited display from Sunderland Ladies ended in defeat as Manchester City continued their ruthless start to the WSL 1 campaign on Friday night at the Hetton Centre.
Goals either side of the break from Nikita Parris and Toni Duggan ensured City maintained their unbeaten league start to the season.
Parris drew first blood five minutes before the interval when her arrowed shot flew into the net from 12 yards.
Sunderland had their chances and went close through Stephanie Roche who saw her header well saved before Abbey Joice was unable to make clean contact on the ball from close range.
The visitors then doubled their lead with 15 minutes left on the clock as Toni Duggan unleashed a rasping strike which nestled in the bottom corner. R
eeling from last Saturday’s emphatic comeback at Liverpool, Carlton Fairweather was forced to make a number of changes following Hilde Gunn Olsen, Krystle Johnston and Kylla Sjoman’s omission through injury.
Rachael Laws returned in goal, while Keira Ramshaw and Abby Holmes filled in the other outfield spaces.
Fairweather stated in his pre-match notes that City would be a massive challenge and he wasn’t wrong as they approached the match with a 100 per cent record in the league so far.
With three straight victories and a no goals conceded in that time, Sunderland knew they would have their work cut out against a City side at the very top of their game.
However, with a striker with such an instinctive prowess as Beth Mead, the Lady Black Cats knew they would always have a chance if they could remain solid at the back.
While City began the game dominating possession, Sunderland looked comfortable and happy to let the visitors control the ball.
With chances at a premium, it took until midway through the first half for City to really tighten the screw and then, they had two golden opportunities in the space of 60 seconds.
Hayley Sharp was alert to clear the ball off the line following Jill Scott’s arrowed cross, before Kossovare Asslani guided her header towards the top corner which Laws managed to claw out of the air.
As the clocked ticked over the half-hour mark, the Lasses really grew into the game and went close when Karen Bardsley got down well to deny Stephanie Roche’s header.
But just as Sunderland looked to be building a head of steam City broke the deadlock through Parris who fired home from 12 yards.
Scott played an incisive ball inside to Daphne Corboz who laid it off to Parris to fire home for City.
Sunderland responded well though, and were unfortunate not to level early in the second period when Abbey Joice got the ball stuck under her feet from 12 yards out.
Mead looked a constant threat and continued to ask questions of City’s extremely well organised backline, as she linked up on numerous occasions with Brooke Chaplen.
But as Sunderland huffed and puffed for an equaliser, City dealt the hosts the knock-out blow as Duggan doubled the visitors lead.
Lucy Bronze’s ball across the edge of the box wasn’t dealt with, and Duggan fired it across goal and into Laws' far corner.
Sunderland continued to battle away but City stood firm and saw the game out to continue their fine run which has seen them remain unbeaten in the league for over a year.
Sunderland Ladies: Laws, Holmes, Bannon, Sharp (Potts, 69), Williams (Beer, 67), Chaplen, Furness, Staniforth, Ramshaw (Joice, 45), Roche, Mead
Unused subs: McDougall, Kelly, Hill, Brown