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Published: 19:22 | 13/8/16

Man City start with narrow win


The Pep Guardiola era at Manchester City got off to a winning start but they left it late before edging past Sunderland 2-1 at the Etihad.

Despite taking a fourth minute lead courtesy of a Sergio Aguero penalty, City looked like rueing their failure to convert their dominance of possession into the creation of many chances after Jermain Defoe levelled the game with 19 minutes left.

With full-backs Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy moving up and tucking infield when the hosts had possession, Sunderland were unable to get the ball for long stretches of the game, completely outnumbered in the middle third of the park.

The positioning of the full-backs was one of the more noticeable changes introduced by Guardiola while his choice of Willy Caballero ahead of Joe Hart in goal will dominate many of the morning headlines.

Defoe's strike followed a move which involved debutant Adnan Januzaj - the winger having broken through at parent club Manchester United under new Sunderland boss David Moyes - and the organisation and discipline of the Black Cats bodes well for the season ahead.

The game looked like it would end in a draw until substitute Paddy McNair, another player making his bow for Sunderland, headed into his own net under pressure.

The fact that the decisive contribution came courtesy of someone who was a Manchester United player until a few days ago will please the home fans no end, as will the winning start under their new manager.

However, the difficulties that City endured in their attempts to break down a stubborn defence highlights that Guardiola has not taken over a well-oiled machine at the peak of their powers.

As seen by the fact the club have made eight signings over the course of the transfer window, with at least one more strongly rumoured to be on their way, Guardiola is attempting to restructure and rebuild the side and anyone expecting fireworks over the opening weeks of the season is likely to be disappointed.

But there were already a few signs of the stamp the new boss will put on the side and with Nolito and Jon Stones both making debuts, a new era has begun with a win, if not a bang.

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