Sunderland 1-0 Manchester City
SUNDERLAND SNATCHED an unlikely three points at the death with Ji Dong-Won scoring three seconds from time to secure a priceless 1-0 victory for the Black Cats.
City saw Edin Dzeko miss a hatful of chances whilst Nicklas Bendtner and James McClean came close for the hosts before Ji worked his way around Joe Hart from an offside position to claim all three.
Martin O`Neill had to scrape the barrel in order to name his starting XI with Keiren Westwood, Kieran Richardson, Phil Bardsley, Titus Bramble and Connor Wickham all out. Craig Gardner was handed his first start under his former Villa boss at right full-back whilst last week`s goal-scorer Jack Colback came in at left full-back. Down the left, McClean came in for his full debut as a Black Cat.
Manchester City of course had no such problems with Roberto Mancini dropping James Milner, David Silva and Sergio Aguero down to the bench, bringing in Dzeko, Nigel De Jong and Samir Nasri.
Sunderland had the first notable chance of the game on the counter-attack - Bendtner the man denied by the quick reactions of England No.1, Hart.
McClean, making his first league start for the club also came close when he saw Hart saw his low-right footed shot having cut in from the left.
Local lad Adam Johnson saw a good opportunity go to waste for the visitors when he whipped a dipping left-footed effort narrowly over the bar from an acute angle following a short corner.
O`Neill`s defensive headache became worse when Wes Brown trudged off with a groin problem in the 26th minute to be replaced by Matt Kilgallon, making his first appearance in the Premier League for 20 months.
The Citizens saw a couple of good chances go to waste just after the half hour mark when Simon Mignolet blocked from Dzeko before Gardner cleared off the line to deny Nasri a low drive.
Dzeko saw another good chance wasted in the 34th minute when he sent a powerful half-volley narrowly over the crossbar following corner.
As the board went up for injury time, Gardner lashed narrowly over from the edge of the area after intricate build-up play with Stephane Sessegnon.
Dzeko was at it again 10 minutes into the second-half, placing over from the edge of the area after Johnson picked out the Bosnian forward from a short corner routine.
The visitors had their best chance three minutes later when Aleksandr Kolarov robbed Sessegnon before the ball was eventually fed into sub Sergio Aguero who saw his swept effort blocked from point-blank range by Mignolet.
Sessegnon`s failure to get his head up in the 63rd minute cost the Black Cats as he failed to pick out an unmarked Bendtner on the other side of the last City defender, instead electing to drive an effort narrowly wide of the far post.
Dzeko should have done better not long after when he was put through, but the hulking forward was eventually crowded out by three Sunderland defenders.
With just four minutes left on the clock, O`Neill`s injury nightmare continued with skipper Lee Cattermole forced off due to injury.
There was still time for one last hearts-in-mouths moment as David Silva rapped the crossbar before Larsson somehow managed to clear under pressure.
With City camped in the Sunderland half, the Black Cats broke and with virtually the last kick of the game substitute Ji dragged the ball under control before squirming past Hart to secure a sensational three points for O`Neill`s men.
An excellent three points for Sunderland who certainly competed despite all their injury problems. City were by no means at their best but the swift introduction of star man Aguero and Silva after the break certainly indicated that Roberto Mancini had been frustrated with his side`s inability to break down the Black Cat.
A great result for all involved and an encouraging performance to boot.
Sunderland: Mignolet; Gardner, Brown (Kilgallon), O'Shea, Colback; Larsson, Vaughan (Elmohamady), Cattermole (c), McClean; Sessegnon; Bendtner (Ji).
Subs not used: Carson (gk); Laing, Meyler & Noble.
Manchester City: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Lescott, Kolarov (Richards); Barry, De Jong (Aguero); Nasri (Silva), Toure.Y, Johnson; Dzeko.
Subs not used: Pantilimon (gk); Savic, Clichy & Milner.
Attendance: 40 625
Referee: Mr K Friend.