Pre match build up was disrupted with the speculation of Mark Hughes post up for grabs. With the pressure on, a win was much needed against a scrappy Sunderland side. Wednesday`s defeat was still fresh in the mind and the players were said to be hurting and itching to go. The early controversy before the game got under way, was that Santa Cruz was chosen to replace the much criticised Adebayor. Elsewhere Roberto Mancini was sat amongst the crowd, a bookies tip to replace Hughes.
The match started brightly for City and the front trio of Santa Cruz, Bellamy and Tevez were instantly flying. After neat work by Tevez, a slick pass found the rampaging Bellamy, the Welshman slid in an acute assist to Santa who set the match alight with his first Premier League goal of the season.
Bellamy was firing on all cylinders and made Nosworthy look like League 2 standard. The City man continued to break free of the full back and won a penalty, unbelievably our first of the season. The much debated poll was incorrect as Tevez stood up and took charge. The front man struck it straight down the middle and we were 2-0 ahead within 10 minutes.
This should have been the start of a hammering at the expense of Steve Bruce`s side. However, without fail, our defence was faltering and we let the away side back into the game. A debatable corner was given and our paper thin defence succumb to the power and height of Mensah who headed home.
With the home fans sensing the worst possible Mark Hughes was animated on the touchline. Another corner for Sunderland ended in the equaliser. Our defence were looking clueless and this time Henderson added to the dismay of the home fans. The woeful defending was continuing and imminent changes to the defence are needed.
The Blues became subdued at a clearly surprise comeback, the players were continuing to plug away, but the expression on the managers face was one of fury and the self realisation that this was most possibly his last game in charge.
Despite this, Hughes`s January transfer buy and clear friend Bellamy aided the blues boss with a neat finish to make the scores 3-2. Good interchange down the right hand side and a cross field ball found Bellamy, the forward finished superbly and we were back ahead.
If this was Hughes`s last hurrah his acquisitions were trying to give him a good send off. Both Bellamy and Santa Cruz were extremely impressive, and despite our defensive worries, our front men were playing with great style and flair.
With the half time whistle imminent Ireland should have made it four. More admirable work from Santa Cruz found Ireland, the midfield had options left, as well as a chance himself, the midfielder decided the former but his pass was astray.
A pulsating first half came to end with City in the lead.
-T MC-3 – 2- Sund
The second half again looked to add more goals with both sides looking dangerous in the opposition half. Bellamy was sensational and with more luck would have seen his goal tally seriously increase. As well as the threat going forward our leaky defence looked to self implode with resounding mistakes.
These mistakes proved crucial as Jones levelled again for Sunderland who looked clearly relieved they were against our defence. With limited options down the right Sunderland crossed where the fortunate Jones waited to head home.
Our self destruct button was again pressed and the forwards were looking increasingly frustrated with the defensive lapses.
Cue Santa Cruz, with the festive season proving too good too ignore for Roque, he netted his second and City`s fourth to prove the managerial tactics by Hughes were spot on. Offside suspicions were quashed as Santa Cruz managed to poke home from close range.
With the score 4-3 we looked to add another. The forwards were getting deserved service and we looked comfortable infront of goal.
The scoring did stop there though as the scores finished 4-3. However, Sunderland weren`t finished with their inclusion in the match, centre back, Turner, being sent off for an elbow on Barry.
much needed win for the blues but was this enough to save the departing of our boss.
F-T MC- 4 – 3- Snd
The keeper is clearly becoming infuriated with his defence. Given was left helpless with all three goals and will be asking serious questions of a leaky defence.
Limped off early
Lacks commanding ability and motivational skills for a captain. The central defender is unfortunately making decisive defensive mistakes that are costing the team.
A rare poor defensive outing from the academy player. Lacked an inspirational captain and missed several tackles. Will improve and a defensive stalwart in the making.
The veteran clearly lacks pace and this is becoming an increasing problem. His experience is invalid to Bridge but his inclusion in the starting 11 is causing a great debate.
Worked well but can’t be used as a lone defnesive midfielder. The England star broke up play well and looked a more creative threat.
Tried, but needs to be more selfish. Some good bursts from Ireland but his defensive role was and is hampering his attacking abilities.
His speed and creative abilities are dearly missed when the winger doesn’t featue. Created chances but didn’t look match fit. Limped off.
Another sensational performance from Bellamy and a close battle with RSC for star player. The defender will be glad too see the back of Bellers with his sheer pace, finishing and overall ability.
A real Handful for the Sunderland defence. The striker is in exceptional form and looks the complete article with improved finishing.
Santa certainly came to the party and did his best to prevent the chop for Hughes. The striker put in an exceptional all round performance and finished the match with 2 vitally important goals.
Much more comfortable on the ball than Richards and a threat going forward. Needs to cure rash defensive tackles other than that an accomplished performance.
Slotted in well to the defensive/midfield setup. Tackled well and even created several chances
Not enough time.
Hughes- Unfortunately this was Mark’s last game in the job. He got everything spot on today and hasn’t been helped in his job by the clueless joke that is Cook. I have the utmost respect for Hughes and he has turned the club around completely. I want to wake up and this all be a dream but sadly he departs. His criticised signings helped his cause today but the decision was already made.