Sunderland 1-0 Manchester City
Sunday 10th November 2013
Giaccherini (Gardner 72)
Fletcher (Altidore 77)
Johnson (Borini 87)
Richards (Zabaleta 71)
Javi Garcia (Jesus Navas 45)
Negredo (Dzeko 71)
When you look at football teams in England, I can see little room for debate when discussing the nation’s most depressing club. For me, the answer is easy – Sunderland A.F.C.. For years, The Black Cats clung onto the bottom of the Premier League, surviving season after miserable season, thanks to a wide array of managerial appointments and a large amount of good fortune.
Although Lady Luck’s donations evidently ran out completely last season, in November 2013, she was still an essential trustee at the club. Sat in a lowly 19th position, manager Gus Poyet was embarking on a season that saw him somehow drag Sunderland out of the relegation zone, and up to a respectable 15th place finish.
One of the most iconic games from this resurrection, was a shock 1-0 home win over eventual league-winners Manchester City. Although the away side had 63% possession, 28 shots in total and fourteen corners to Sunderland’s none, it was Mackem defender Phil Bardsley who decided the game.
Racing onto a hopeful ball forward from Wes Brown, Bardsley bundled over James Milner on his way to curling his effort past future-Sunderland shot-stopper Costel Pantilimon after just 21 minutes. This provoked a typical backs-to-the-wall performance from Bardsley and his defensive colleagues, who received a roar from the Stadium of Light every time they managed to lay a foot on the ball.
The reason for this shock opening was uncharacteristically slow start from City. They appeared unconfident in midfield and defence, which allowed Sunderland to pump long balls into space, in the hope that it would cause unrest in the City back line – which it did.
Spearheading City’s siege was fan’s favourite and Premier League icon Sergio Agüero, who saw a close-range header fly wide and a snapshot well-saved by Vito Mannone as Sunderland hung on to gain their third win in four matches on their path to another remarkable survival.