Manchester City returned to form with a deserved victory over Sunderland thanks to goals from Aleksandar Kolarov, Sergio Aguero and James Milner.

The Premier League champions had won just one of their previous six matches in all competitions but were fine value for this victory.

Kolarov's free-kick gave City an early lead and substitute Aguero made it two with a neat finish after half-time.

Milner's set-piece was deflected in by Craig Gardner to seal the points.

Mancini on 'important' clean sheet

Roberto Mancini's men had numerous chances to improve the scoreline but they will be delighted with the result.

It was City's first clean sheet of the season and moves them up to second in the table, four points behind leaders Chelsea.

Mancini admitted the quick turnaround from Wednesday's Champions League draw with Borussia Dortmund was "a problem".

But despite making seven changes to the line-up, his side had little trouble inflicting a first loss of the season on Sunderland.

One of those changes saw Carlos Tevez come into the side and it was a menacing run from him that led to the opener.

The Argentine surged down the left only for Carlos Cuellar to arrive with a reckless challenge.

Man City v Sunderland stats

  • Manchester City are unbeaten in 33 Premier League home games
  • City have scored in all 11 games they have played this season, but this was their first clean sheet
  • Only five players have scored more goals for City in Premier League history than Sergio Aguero (25)
  • Aguero has scored 17 goals in 19 league appearances at Etihad Stadium
  • Sunderland have not won any of their last 11 away league matches

Left-back Kolarov stepped up to curl an unstoppable free-kick past Simon Mignolet at his near post - the in-form Serb's fourth goal in five games for club and country.

It was the first time Sunderland had gone a goal behind this season and they briefly pressed forward in an attempt to hit back.

Stephane Sessegnon volleyed over but the visitors lacked creativity and Steven Fletcher found himself isolated up front.

City were dominating possession and Mignolet denied Pablo Zabaleta before Tevez screwed wide from the follow-up.

The one team to come away from Etihad Stadium last season unbeaten were Sunderland - they drew 3-3 having led 3-1 after 85 minutes - and it was inevitable they would improve after half-time.

Sebastian Larsson began to find more space and his floated cross was volleyed towards goal by Fletcher, only for the excellent Micah Richards to arrive with a crucial block.

But as Sunderland improved, so did City, and the Black Cats' greater ambition made for a more open and expansive encounter.

O'Neill 'expects better' from Sunderland

Toure saw a powerful drive tipped over the bar after David Silva's superb flick and Danny Rose cleared a shot off the line from Richards, who was making his first appearance of the campaign.

After Balotelli failed to connect with a low cross by Kolarov, the Italian was replaced by Aguero and he made an immediate impact.

Kolarov produced another inviting centre from the left and Aguero met it with a superb first-time finish past Mignolet.

The chances were now flowing and Tevez drilled wide, Silva chipped on to the crossbar and City keeper Joe Hart saved James McClean's header en route to his 50th Premier League clean sheet.

Milner's industry was rewarded when his free-kick skimmed off Gardner's head and past Mignolet, who foiled Aguero late on but could not prevent City going into the international break on a high.

Lineup, Bookings (3) & Substitutions (6)

Manchester City

  • 01 Hart
  • 02 Richards
  • 05 Zabaleta
  • 06 Lescott
  • 13 Kolarov
  • 07 Milner
  • 18 Barry
  • 21 Silva (Rodwell - 90' )
  • 42 Y Toure
  • 32 Tevez (Clichy - 86' )
  • 45 Balotelli (Aguero - 56' )

Substitutes

  • 30 Pantilimon
  • 22 Clichy
  • 28 K Toure
  • 08 Nasri
  • 17 Rodwell
  • 10 Dzeko
  • 16 Aguero

Sunderland

  • 22 Mignolet
  • 16 O'Shea
  • 24 Cuellar Booked
  • 03 Rose (Vaughan - 61' )
  • 07 Larsson
  • 08 Gardner Booked
  • 14 Colback Booked
  • 21 Johnson (Saha - 68' )
  • 23 McClean
  • 28 Sessegnon (Campbell - 83' )
  • 26 Fletcher

Substitutes

  • 20 Westwood
  • 12 Kilgallon
  • 19 Bramble
  • 15 Vaughan
  • 18 Meyler
  • 09 Campbell
  • 25 Saha
Ref: Probert
Att: 47,036

Match Stats

Shots

26 8

On target

16 6

Corners

15 4

Fouls

10 10

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +3:23 Full time

Full Time The referee brings the game to a close.

90:00 +1:13

Sergio Aguero takes a shot. Save by Simon Mignolet.

90:00 +0:22 Substitution

Substitution Jack Rodwell replaces David Silva.

88:39

Assist by Aleksandar Kolarov.

88:39 Goal scored

Goal! - James Milner - Man City 3 - 0 Sunderland James Milner finds the net with a goal direct from the free kick from just outside the penalty box high into the middle of the goal. Man City 3-0 Sunderland.

88:00 Booking

Booking Craig Gardner goes into the referee's book.

87:53

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Aleksandar Kolarov by Craig Gardner.

86:12

Aleksandar Kolarov takes a shot. John O'Shea gets a block in.

86:37

Corner from left by-line taken by Aleksandar Kolarov.

85:53

Aleksandar Kolarov takes a shot. James Milner gets a block in.

85:05

Corner taken short by James Milner.

85:05 Substitution

Substitution Gael Clichy replaces Carlos Tevez.

84:12

Inswinging corner taken left-footed by David Vaughan from the right by-line to the near post, clearance made by Joleon Lescott.

83:56

Craig Gardner takes a shot. Blocked by Joleon Lescott.

82:31

Corner taken by James Milner.

82:31 Substitution

Substitution Fraizer Campbell is brought on as a substitute for Stephane Sessegnon.

80:27

Gareth Barry takes the free kick.

80:27 Booking

Booking Jack Colback shown a yellow card.

80:18

Jack Colback challenges Pablo Zabaleta unfairly and gives away a free kick.

79:01

Steven Fletcher takes a shot. Save made by Joe Hart.

77:25

Pablo Zabaleta gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on James McClean. Direct free kick taken by Simon Mignolet.

76:47

Yaya Toure takes a shot and went wide right of the net.

74:13

Corner taken by James Milner played to the near post, Effort on goal by Micah Richards from just inside the area clears the crossbar.

73:45

David Silva takes a shot. Blocked by John O'Shea.

73:20

Short corner taken by James Milner from the right by-line.

72:18

Gareth Barry takes a shot. Blocked by Joleon Lescott. Floated corner taken right-footed by James Milner from the right by-line, Micah Richards takes a shot. Save by Simon Mignolet.

72:06

Short corner taken by James Milner from the right by-line.

71:49

Unfair challenge on Joe Hart by Stephane Sessegnon results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Joe Hart.

70:47

Sebastian Larsson takes a outswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post, James McClean takes a shot. Save made by Joe Hart.

70:30

The ball is sent over by James McClean, clearance by Aleksandar Kolarov.

69:41

Shot by David Silva.

68:33

Carlos Tevez has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the left of the target.

67:59

Unfair challenge on David Silva by David Vaughan results in a free kick. David Silva takes the direct free kick.

67:34

Simon Mignolet takes the free kick.

67:34 Substitution

Substitution Louis Saha comes on in place of Adam Johnson.

67:34

Carlos Tevez is ruled offside.

66:17

Inswinging corner taken by David Silva from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance by Craig Gardner.

65:31

John O'Shea gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Yaya Toure. Gareth Barry takes the free kick.

61:00 Substitution

Substitution Danny Rose leaves the field to be replaced by David Vaughan.

59:35

Assist by Aleksandar Kolarov.

59:35 Goal scored

Goal! - Sergio Aguero - Man City 2 - 0 Sunderland Sergio Aguero finds the net with a goal from inside the six-yard box to the top left corner of the goal. Man City 2-0 Sunderland.

57:11

James Milner takes a outswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post, Micah Richards takes a shot. Brilliant save by Simon Mignolet.

56:19

Short corner taken by James Milner from the right by-line.

55:14 Substitution

Substitution Sergio Aguero joins the action as a substitute, replacing Mario Balotelli.

54:55

Aleksandar Kolarov sends in a cross.

53:58

Mario Balotelli concedes a free kick for a foul on Jack Colback. Simon Mignolet restarts play with the free kick.

53:39

The ball is swung over by Aleksandar Kolarov, clearance made by John O'Shea.

52:09

The offside flag is raised against Steven Fletcher. Free kick taken by Joe Hart.

51:15

Mario Balotelli produces a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty area that goes harmlessly over the target.

50:51

Micah Richards takes a shot. Danny Rose gets a block in.

49:59

Micah Richards takes a shot. Blocked by Carlos Cuellar.

49:43

Outswinging corner taken right-footed by James Milner from the right by-line.

49:20

Yaya Toure takes a shot. Save by Simon Mignolet.

48:47

Shot from just outside the box by Sebastian Larsson misses to the left of the target.

48:18

Steven Fletcher takes a shot. Yaya Toure gets a block in.

47:36

Gareth Barry fouled by James McClean, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Micah Richards.

46:22

The ball is swung over by Adam Johnson, clearance made by Joleon Lescott.

45:01

The second half has started.

45:00 +2:30 Half time

Half Time The ref blows to signal half-time.

45:00 +1:49

Steven Fletcher takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.

44:06

The offside flag is raised against Stephane Sessegnon. Free kick taken by Joe Hart.

43:02

Yaya Toure produces a cross, clearance by Sebastian Larsson.

42:18

Mario Balotelli is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Simon Mignolet restarts play with the free kick.

40:31

Shot from just outside the area by Gareth Barry misses to the right of the target.

39:54

Short corner taken by James Milner from the right by-line.

37:35

Steven Fletcher takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.

37:21

Unfair challenge on Stephane Sessegnon by Gareth Barry results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Stephane Sessegnon.

36:28

The ball is crossed by Aleksandar Kolarov.

35:24

Outswinging corner taken by James Milner, Shot from just outside the area by Mario Balotelli misses to the right of the target.

34:56

Carlos Tevez takes a shot. Carlos Cuellar gets a block in.

33:53

David Silva challenges Danny Rose unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Stephane Sessegnon.

31:46

David Silva challenges Jack Colback unfairly and gives away a free kick. Simon Mignolet restarts play with the free kick.

29:43

James Milner takes a outswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post, Aleksandar Kolarov produces a left-footed shot from just outside the area that goes harmlessly over the bar.

29:33

James Milner produces a cross, Adam Johnson manages to make a clearance.

28:46

The referee gives a free kick against Mario Balotelli for handball. Craig Gardner restarts play with the free kick.

27:32

Foul by Pablo Zabaleta on James McClean, free kick awarded. Danny Rose takes the free kick.

25:51

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on John O'Shea by Yaya Toure. Free kick taken by Craig Gardner.

24:29

Corner taken by David Silva, clearance made by Steven Fletcher.

22:52

Unfair challenge on Mario Balotelli by Craig Gardner results in a free kick. Direct strike on goal from the free kick comes in from Aleksandar Kolarov, blocked by Craig Gardner.

22:18

David Silva fouled by Danny Rose, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Joe Hart.

20:47

Shot by Carlos Tevez from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the goal.

20:03

Pablo Zabaleta takes a shot. Save by Simon Mignolet.

16:32

Shot from just outside the box by Mario Balotelli goes over the bar.

16:14

Foul by Craig Gardner on Mario Balotelli, free kick awarded. Yaya Toure takes the free kick.

15:23

The assistant referee signals for offside against Carlos Tevez. Carlos Cuellar takes the free kick.

13:35

The offside flag is raised against Sebastian Larsson. Joe Hart takes the indirect free kick.

12:54

Corner taken by Sebastian Larsson played to the near post.

12:17

Sebastian Larsson takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line played to the near post, clearance by Gareth Barry.

12:03

The ball is sent over by Adam Johnson, save made by Joe Hart.

11:48

Free kick awarded for a foul by James Milner on Stephane Sessegnon. Sebastian Larsson takes the free kick.

10:38

Stephane Sessegnon takes a shot from just outside the penalty area clears the crossbar.

9:43

David Silva gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Steven Fletcher. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Adam Johnson from right channel, Yaya Toure gets a block in.

7:14

James Milner gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Stephane Sessegnon. Jack Colback takes the direct free kick.

4:18

Carlos Tevez provided the assist for the goal.

4:18 Goal scored

Goal! - Aleksandar Kolarov - Man City 1 - 0 Sunderland Aleksandar Kolarov finds the net with a goal direct from the free kick from just outside the area to the top left corner of the goal. Man City 1-0 Sunderland.

3:03 Booking

Booking Carlos Cuellar receives a caution for unsporting behaviour.

2:33

Carlos Tevez fouled by Carlos Cuellar, the ref awards a free kick.

0:00

The referee gets the game underway.

Live data and text provided by our data suppliers