Pep Guardiola got a winning start in the Premier League as Manchester City sealed a 2-1 win over Sunderland at the Etihad Stadium.
Jermain Defoe cancelled out an early Sergio Aguero penalty, but David Moyes’ side were denied a share of the spoils as debutant Paddy McNair turned into his own net with just three minutes to play.
Guardiola, in his first competitive match in charge, had just four minutes to wait for the opening goal, as Aguero converted a penalty following Patrick van Aanholt’s rash challenge on Raheem Sterling.
City, who handed debuts to Nolito and John Stones, enjoyed close to 75 per cent possession in the first half but were unable to capitalise on their dominance, and only a smart save from Willy Caballero – starting ahead of Joe Hart – denied Defoe an equaliser four minutes before the break.
David Moyes endured a 4-1 defeat as Manchester United manager on his last visit to the Etihad Stadium, but his disciplined side kept City frustrated for long spells in the second half despite seeing so little of the ball.
Moyes was given cause to celebrate as Defoe converted Jack Rodwell’s pass 19 minutes from time, but substitute McNair’s unfortunate own goal gave City all three points in front of a relieved home crowd.
Duncan Watmore headed over a promising early chance for the visitors, but City needed just four minutes to take the lead.
Van Aanholt’s clumsy tackle brought down Sterling in the area, and Aguero made no mistake from 12 yards, tucking the ball into the bottom-left corner.
Caballero gave Sunderland the chance of a swift response as he gifted them possession with a poor kick, but debutant Lynden Gooch’s low cross evaded Fabio Borini and City were able to clear.
Nolito and Kevin de Bruyne both saw efforts from the edge of the area fly narrowly wide, but Sunderland almost snatched an equaliser before half-time, with Caballero blocking Defoe’s prodded effort from close range.
City’s dominance of the ball continued after the break, though they had little by way of clear-cut chances until the hour mark, when Aguero dragged the ball wide of the near post after Sunderland failed to clear Sterling’s low cross from the left.
Moyes handed Adnan Januzaj his debut off the bench as Sunderland sought an equaliser, and the Manchester United loanee played a part as Defoe snatched the leveller after 71 minutes.
Januzaj and Borini combined before releasing Rodwell, who slipped a clever reverse pass beyond centre-back Aleksandar Kolarov and into the path of Defoe, who finished low past Caballero from 12 yards.
City pushed on in the closing stages and forced the winning goal with 87 minutes played, as McNair, four minutes after coming on, headed into the net from point-blank range after Jesus Navas’ cross skidded across goal.
Key Opta stats:
– Sunderland have never won away at Manchester City in the Premier League (W0 D2 L11).
– Sergio Aguero is the top scoring player in the Premier League so far in 2016 (18 goals in 19 games).
– Pep Guardiola has now won the opening league game of the season as a manager in each of his last seven seasons (three for Barcelona, three for Bayern, one for Man City).
– Jermain Defoe has scored in five successive Premier League away appearances – only five players have scored in 6+ successive away apps in the competition.
– Manchester City benefited from an own goal in a Premier League game for the first time since April 2015 (44 games ago).
– Paddy McNair was the first player to score an own goal on his Premier League debut for a team since Danny Gabbidon for QPR exactly five years ago today (13/08/2011).