For Seb Coates, making his league debut for Sunderland – one of only two changes from Saturday, the game was something of a baptism of fire against Man of the Match Sergio Aguero. The Argentina striker nutmegged the Liverpool loanee for his first, though it would be entirely unfair to scapegoat the Uruguayan's performance.
While Sunderland were sluggish, Manuel Pellegrini's players were sharp and precise – four outstanding goals from their only four shots on target. In the end, it proved that unmitigated effort is often not enough. At the end of the season, it is likely that City will be the only real contenders to contest Jose Mourinho adding yet another title to his belt.
Yet despite the gulf between the sides, Sunderland started the game brightly. Jack Rodwell should have scored as early as the 7th minute but only to have had his shot blocked after a cross from Will Buckley who found himself in acres of space. By the 19th minute, the Black Cats did take the lead after lovely reverse pass from Seb Larsson found its way through threaded to Connor Wickham bustling between two City defenders with the ball ricocheting into the net from a failed clearance by Pablo Zabaleta.
The lead though hardly lasted two minutes as Sunderland fell asleep and paid a heavy price when there is such a player as Aguero on the field, scoring his 13th goal of the season. As City started to dominate possession, the writing appeared on the wall that it was doubtful the Black Cats would be able to hold out. They did not last until half-time, when six minutes before the break Aguero turned provider for Stevan Jovetic.
City's superiority continued when Zabaleta made amends for his inadvertent contribution to Sunderland’s opening goal when he scored the third 10 minutes into the second half, playing a one-two with Samir Nasri. In the 72nd minute, their advantage was extended to 4-1 when substitute James Milner sent a low ball into the area for Aguero to run onto and beat Costel Pantilimon at the near post.
No one apparently told Man City they were not supposed to score at the Stadium of Light after four blank sheets on their four previous visits. But it was not capitulation by the Black Cats. They were well beaten by the only team currently chasing Chelsea. But it was rather sad to see that nearly half of the 41,152 crowd walked out with still 15 minutes or more to go. Sometimes we have to hold out our hands and admit we were outclassed. End of story.