Mancini praises 'important but surprising' Man City win

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini said that the margin of his side's resounding win over Sunderland surprised him.

City, who moved six points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham in the chase for a Champions League spot, thrashed the Black Cats 5-0 at Eastlands.

"I am surprised but I am happy. It is important that we scored five goals," said Mancini.

"We always play to win. If we continue like this we'll finish very well."

Goals from Adam Johnson, Carlos Tevez, David Silva, Patrick Vieira and Yaya Toure leapfrogged City above Chelsea in the Premier League, with the kind of attacking display not usually associated with Mancini's side.

"It was important for us to win this game because we had the chance to go into third position," added Mancini.

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"Before the game I thought it would be difficult because it is not easy to beat Sunderland.

"They are a strong team who work very well and their manager [Steve Bruce] knows everything. But we started the game brightly and that was important.

"It is possible that it will give us confidence for our remaining games. It is important now that we continue and go to Liverpool and win next Monday."

Mancini also claimed that Johnson, who scored on his first start after returning from injury, could spearhead City's charge for a Champions League spot.

"When we lost Adam, that's when our problems started," said the Italian. "He is the one player we have who can change a game. Adam is not 100% fit yet but he showed today he is very important to us."

With seven games to play in the Premier League, City are well placed to fulfill their season aim of qualifying for next season's Champions League via a top-four finish.

Mancini's side are third in the table with 56 points from 31 matches, a point more than Chelsea in fourth and six points more than fifth-placed Tottenham, both of whom have a game in hand.

"Our target at the start of the season was the Champions League. We are in that position now and it is perfect for us," said Mancini.

"We always play to win but sometimes it depends on the opponent. We have played every three days in the last month and we have had a lot of players injured.

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"Now with the players recovered, if we continue to play like this we can finish very well. Chelsea have one game in hand but Arsenal are only three points ahead of us."

With an FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United on 16 April, Mancini does not believe that City's good form will concern United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

"Ferguson knows the FA Cup semi-final is one game in which anything can happen and I think he knows Manchester City very well - like we know Manchester United. It's a one-off."

While the season still holds much promise for City, Sunderland have now gone seven league games without a win.

The Black Cats have 38 points after 31 matches and manager Steve Bruce thinks that is not enough to guarantee survival, which leaves them 12th in the table and six points clear of West Ham in 18th.

"We haven't got enough points in the bag," stated Bruce. "We are six points [above the relegation zone] and there are seven games to go. We have been on a horrific run.

"We have played some of the top six and we have found it very difficult with a half-fit squad, but that is not to make excuses. We have to arrest that."