Sergio Aguero hands Manchester City victory at Sunderland
SUNDERLAND (AP) Sergio Aguero's first-half strike handed Manchester City a 1-0 victory against Sunderland in the Premier League on Tuesday.
Aguero gave City the lead after 16 minutes at the Stadium of Light, reacting quickest to a low, deflected cross into the area from Jesus Navas and getting it under control before prodding beyond goalkeeper Vito Mannone.
He was caught on the calf by a last-ditch challenge from Billy Jones as he scored and appeared to be hurt while he celebrated, but returned to the pitch after treatment.
The match was City's first since the club announced that Pep Guardiola would replace Manuel Pellegrini as manager at the end of the season, but goalkeeper Joe Hart denied the impending arrival increased pressure for the players to perform.
''It was never going to be a distraction, we love Manuel as our manager,'' Hart said. ''We are here to win titles, Manuel is here to win titles. We appreciate we have a job to do and next season is next season.''
The win moves City to 47 points in the Premier League but keeps it second, three behind leader Leicester, which they play on Saturday.
City stopper Hart made an excellent stop on the stroke of halftime, denying Jermain Defoe with a low, one-handed save before Jones hit the post as he tried to convert the rebound.
But Sunderland, itself scrapping to move out of the relegation zone, rallied in the second half and had enough chances to feel frustrated at losing the game.
John O'Shea shot over the crossbar from 10 yards late on, before Nicolas Otamendi did well to block an attempt from Dame N'Doye before heading the ball off the line in added time after a goalmouth scramble.
Sunderland can take pride in its performance but the loss leaves it 19th in the standings, four points from safety and manager Sam Allardyce is concerned at the task facing his team to maintain its status in England's highest tier.
''To match a team with the quality of Manchester City is a positive for us, the result is not,'' Allardyce said to the BBC. ''If we can match that performance going forward, we have to say and hope that it will turn into wins and results for us to get us out of the trouble we are in, which is obviously big trouble now.''
Sunderland faces Liverpool at Anfield in the Premier League on Saturday.