Paddy McNair own goal hands City an opening win
New manager makes statement by dropping Joe Harte and Yaya Toure
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola celebrates after Sunderland’s Paddy McNair scored a late own goal during the Premier League game at the Etihad Stadium. Photograph: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters/Livepic
A late Paddy McNair own goal handed Manchester City a 2-1 win over Sunderland in Pep Guardiola’s first match in charge.
An equaliser from Jermain Defoe had looked like denying Guardiola in the Premier League opener at the Etihad Stadium but substitute McNair, signed from Manchester United this week, headed into his own net after 87 minutes.
But Sunderland, responding to their new manager David Moyes, weathered the early storm and almost claimed a highly creditable point after Defoe netted his 144th Premier League goal.
Yet by the finish, the talk had refocused on Guardiola, who punched the air with satisfaction at the final whistle.
He could hardly have created bigger shockwaves by leaving out England number one Hart in a move certain to increase speculation over his future while one-time team lynchpin Toure did not even made the squad.
It may take time for Guardiola’s blueprint for success to become evident but it was clear the team now have a different, non-stop approach.
Sunderland gave preferred City goalkeeper Willy Caballero an early test but he pushed away Patrick van Aanholt’s third-minute free-kick comfortably enough.
Van Aanholt then allowed City to gain the advantage a minute later when he slid in late to foul Raheem Sterling in the area.
Aguero coolly struck home from the spot to get the Guardiola era up and running.
City continued to dominate possession throughout the first half but chances were few and far between as Sunderland settled and refused to let the hosts have things their way.
It was some time before Nolito went close by curling across goal and Kevin De Bruyne fired wide with a long-range effort.
Sunderland also had some occasional moments with Defoe, still a sharp operator at 33, prompting Caballero to rush out of his area to clear and then extending the keeper with an instinctive volley.
Sterling remained full of running into the second half and troubled the Sunderland defence as he reached the byline and crossed but Aguero shot wide in the ensuing goalmouth scramble.
City were made to rue that miss as Sunderland hit back through the evergreen Defoe 19 minutes from time.
Fabio Borini’s pass to Jack Rodwell drew out Stones and the former City midfielder quickly played in Defoe, who found himself with time to stroke the ball past Caballero.
That was not in the Guardiola script but his team produced the required response.
City almost claimed another in injury time when Kelechi Iheanacho broke clear but his shot was deflected over.